svane.jpg - 8028 Bytes Nordic Media News

Second edition 1997

(Nordic Media from 1999)

    Main page - English version | Archive: Nordic Media News | Site map  

Denmark   |   Finland   |   Iceland   |   Norway   |   Sweden

  Welcome to Nordic Media News

The editions of Nordic Media News, Nordic Media from 1999 onwards, are available on the net. The newsletter is a summary of the contents of Medier i Norden: Resymé (Scandinavian languages news bulletin).

Nordic Media News may be quoted, provided the source is clearly stated.

  Editor                                                      Publisher
Terje Flisen (TF)                                        Secretary General Søren Christensen
Postboks 1726 Vika                                  Nordic Council of Ministers,
0121 Oslo, Norge                                      Store Strandstræde 18
Tel. + 47 22 20 80 61                                 DK-1255 København K., Denmark

Nordic Media News ISSN 1396-934X electronic edition.



The fourth nation-wide radio channel 

There are four nation-wide radio channels in Denmark. Three of them are used by Danmarks Radio (DR) for public service transmissions. The fourth nation-wide radio channel will become vacant at the end of 1998, when the DR digital radio (DAB) trials are to end.

Until a decision has been made about what it will be used for, the Danish Minister of Culture, Mr. Ebbe Lundgaard, in co-operation with media spokespeople, wants to form an impression about which potential applicants there are and which programmes they can offer.

In this connection an announcement will be made in major Danish newspapers. There will not be any specific demands concerning programming policy or mix of programmes.

However, it is expected that the fourth channel will be used to transmit programmes to all of Denmark for a significant number of hours each day. It is also expected that the news coverage will be based on integrity and will not take sides on issues.

Furthermore, demands will be made concerning the economy of the channel, and in particular the plans for funding the channel will be examined closely, since no public funds will be made available to the channel, and there will be no increase in license fees.

An expression of interest to send on the fourth channel will not be considered a proper application, and the Ministry of Culture will thus not be obligated to make a decision based on the submitted proposals.

The Minister of Culture and the media spokespeople expect to be able to start evaluation of the submitted proposals early in the autumn.


Unveiling of Danish DAB radio 

On 27 May, the General Director Mr. Christian S. Nissen in DR (Danmarks Radio) and the DR channel director Mr. Pelle Aarslev unveiled the new digital radio from Bang & Olufsen (B&O), produced in a number of 500 test units.

Tests with DAB (Digital Audio Broadcasting) have taken place over the last few years in the Nordic public service institutions. The DAB system offers a wider frequency capacity for the transmitting companies and CD audio quality for the listeners. In addition it is possible to transmit information to a display, like the lyrics of the opera you are listening to, etc.

DR's DAB CD quality transmissions may be heard by 400 randomly Gallup selected listeners in the Copenhagen and Holstebro areas, in addition to another 100 particularly interested and qualified listeners.

B&O's radio is produced in the classic design of the company and 22 million DKK of public development funding have been available for the project. It has been called the first digital radio for use in the home.

The DAB system is officially launched during the Internationale Funkausstellung exhibition in Berlin 30 August - 7 September. In the autumn, the B&O DAB radio may be purchased by the public. The price will be a major factor in how fast a significant number of listeners will purchase DAB radios.

The General Director Mr. Christian S. Nissen took the opportunity at the unveiling ceremony to point out that without DR as a resourceful partner, the DAB development in Denmark would not have come as far as it actually has done. DR will naturally make the results of the DAB trials available to those who want to see them, the General Director Mr. Nissen pointed out.


Go to Contents



YLE plans for digital TV transmissions 

YLE (the Finnish Broadcasting Corporation) plans for trial digital TV broadcasts, starting in the autumn of 1997. At least two digital TV networks are to be built over the next two years in order to complement the existing analogue networks. The digital networks are to be used to transfer programs from YLE and the commercial channels. In addition, there will be various interactive services.

YLE's plans are in accordance with strategies for Swedish and British digital transmissions. In the USA, too, there is emphasis on terrestrial digital networks, starting in one year's time, at the same time as the British terrestrial digital transmissions.

Digital transmissions are - as opposed to the terrestrial alternative - already a fact of life. This June will see the start of trial transmissions for a digital satellite channel, TV Finland. From 1 September, the transmissions will be permanent. TV Finland is based on programmes produced by TV1 and TV2 of YLE, and MTV3. The channel is the same one which up until now has been transmitted to Finns living in Sweden, the so-called Nacka transmissions.

TV Finland programmes may be received with digital satellite receivers or through a local cable network. There will be a fee for such receptions.

In the beginning, the programmes are to be transmitted via Intelsat 707 from the position of 1 degree western longitude. This will cover the Nordic countries, Central Europe and Southern Europe down to the Mediterranean and Northern Africa. The Norwegian Telenor is to handle the technical part of the satellite transmissions. In addition to the TV programmes, two digital radio channels will be transmitted.


Merger creates a new Finnish media company 

"The Finnish media picture became a lot clearer yesterday (22 April), when the Aamulehti concern and MTV (a TV-company) announced a merger", wrote Hufvudstadsbladet. The story continued: "After the skyrocketing stock-exchange rates of both companies, the market value of the group is currently over three billion FIM. This means that the former market leader Sanoma Oy, who publish Helsingin Sanomat among other things, is currently in second place."

Aamulehti's shares rose with almost 25 %, and the MTV shares doubled in value. Speculations on whether the ownership of the new media company will remain Finnish started almost immediately. "Already, Aamu TV's largest owners are Swedish Marieberg, and it is said that American and Continental media giants believe that Finnish media companies are of interest", wrote Hufvudstadsbladet. Marieberg, owning about 20 % of the shares, becomes one of the largest single owners in the new company.

"It is not expected that the authorities will attempt to hinder the merger, but the MTV concession will be considered by the Government in the light of the changed ownership. The nation-wide commercial radio channel concession will also be reconsidered. Commentators believe that the concentration of the media field will continue for a while, maybe with an intensification of the co-operation between Sanoma and the Åbo-based publishing company Turun sanomat. They currently own the fourth terrestrial-based TV channel," Hufvudstadsbladet wrote.

The formal starting point of the new media company is fixed to the beginning of 1998.


Go to Contents



Joining of media - digitalisation in Iceland 

The Icelandic Radio (RUV) microwave system is about 30 years old, and the question how the distribution of Iceland's TV programmes should be handled is becoming urgent.

There are two main alternatives. One is to renew the microwave system, which then would be owned by Icelandic Radio. The other one could be that Icelandic Radio stopped running its own distribution system, sold the equipment to Post og Tele A/S and entered an agreement with the same company regarding the distribution of programmes to the entire country.

Rentability analyses show that there is hardly a significant difference between the two alternatives; a renewal of the microwave system or the transmittal of Icelandic Radio programmes on the optical cable of Post og Tele.

However, if a national economical point of view is selected, it is probable that the solution with optical cable is definitely less expensive than investment in a new microwave system which has limited possibilities within the field of telecommunication. But there are also other factors working against a renewal of the microwave system. Most of the equipment which is needed to lead Icelandic Radio into the optical cable system is present already, and most of the investments for the attachment to such a network have already been made.

Thus, the optical cable system of Post og Tele is already well suited for taking over the distribution from the microwave network. No great additional costs are required for such a move, and it will be possible to implement such a change in a short time without any reduction in the total distribution from RUV, and any such reductions will only be for a short time.

Post og Tele A/S will install broad band to 90% of the urban population within the next 10 years. By the year 2005 it is expected that broad band is available over the entire country, with the exception of the four to five thousand properties in the country, which take longer to connect to the optical cable.

The installation of the broad band network was started in 1995. It is currently technically possible to transport 31 channels in this way. Plans are made for improving the system in the near future and to make it digital. With this technology, it will be possible to double the number of channels to be transmitted by the system several times. Post og Tele are planning to start transmission of the domestic channels on the broad band network and also to add 10-15 foreign ones.

The TV stations may buy access to the broad band and in that way transmit their programmes to the consumer. Radio and TV programmes are already sent via the broad band network, and those who are connected no longer need antennas.

This is significant from points of view of interests and security for Icelandic people who currently experience interrupts in radio transmissions during the wintertime, and typically at times when a steady flow of information is needed. The broad band system capacity is so large that there is hardly need to restrict concessions for radio and TV channels, and historically, the granting of such concessions has created a lot of debate in Iceland. When the broad band network has been established, new TV stations may start without monopolising a given wave-length.

The broad band system represents a long-term solution to the reception of pictures and sound which Icelandic radio and TV stations, including Icelandic Radio, may utilise well into the new century.


Go to Contents



Media ombudsperson not called for now 

The Norwegian Government submitted a proposal for changes to the broadcasting legislation on 23 May 1997. The proposal follows up the white paper about a media ombudsperson submitted to the Ministry of Culture on 14 August 1996. In this white paper, it was suggested that a media ombudsperson should be appointed to function as a mediator in conflicts between single persons and media in questions concerning press ethics.

The question of a media ombudsperson is left to internal industry organs for reasons of principle. The Government's position is that media ethics must basically be a question of editorial responsibility. However, the Government will follow the development closely to consider if the need for further regulation arises. It may be relevant to re-consider the questions when the commission on free speech appointed by the Ministry of Justice has concluded its work in 1999.

Today, complaints concerning the breaking of ethical rules by broadcasting companies are handled by PFU (Pressens Faglige Utvalg), a council appointed by the press organisation NP (Norsk Presseforbund), and by the Board of Complaints for broadcasting programmes, which is founded in the law of broadcasting. The Government proposes to dissemble the Board of Complaints for broadcasting programmes. This means that all complaints concerning break of ethical rules in Norwegian press and broadcasting are to be handled by PFU in the future.

Due to Norway's obligation according to the TV directive of the European Economic Agreement, the Government suggests to add a clause to the broadcasting law granting the right for rectification to a broadcasting programme.

The clause will give anyone who is unable to have the broadcasting company issue a rectification, and who does not succeed with a complaint to PFU, the option of bringing the question of a rectification of inaccurate rendering of facts before the courts.

The proposal will not be treated until a new Parliament has been elected by the general election in September of 1997.


Actions against violence in audiovisual media 

The Government has suggested changes to the film and video legislation and to the criminal code. The current film and video legislation is from 1987 and the suggested changes reflect the technological changes which have taken place over the last ten years. Among other things, the Government suggests that the same norm of violence is to be used by all audiovisual media. The threshold of acceptable violence is lowered somewhat, and new technology, such as TV and computer games are to be subject to the same rules. These suggestions follow up the Government's plan of action against violence in audiovisual media.

The criminal code concerning violence will, if the Parliament supports the suggestions from the Government, cover all forms of showing and distribution of moving pictures, including film over telecommunication and cable networks and showing in film clubs. The current rule only covers commercial showings. For cinema films, it is only contents of violence and pornography which may be banned after the mandatory censorship by Statens filmtilsyn. The criminal code norm for rendering of violence in 382 is to be used rather than the criteria "brutalising and morally degrading" from the current film and video law.

Furthermore, it is suggested that it should be possible to appeal rulings concerning age limits for films. Only the distributors and the Children's ombudsperson are to have such an appeal right. The public may ask the Children's ombudsperson to evaluate whether a complaint is called for. A board is proposed to handle complaints.

The concession system for film and video will be maintained. This will make it possible to maintain control in order to hinder the distribution of videos with illegal contents. In addition, the municipalities will grant local concessions for distribution, and may demand that the concession holders maintain a reasonable selection for children. Such conditions will only cover rental video.

All videos are to carry a sticker which is bought from the authority Statens filmtilsyn. Refunding of fees for unused stickers will be introduced. The fee to the Norwegian cinema and film fund from the video business is connected to the purchase of stickers from Filmtilsynet.

The proposals are expected to be treated by the Parliament in the autumn of 1997.


Regulation of ownership in daily press and broadcasting 

The Parliament has recently passed a new law about monitoring acquisitions in daily press and broadcasting (see also NMN no 1/97). The law provides a new board the authority to stop - or to state conditions for - obtaining ownership parts in daily press or broadcasting companies.With one exception, the law corresponds to the proposal from the Government. The Parliament elected to establish a new ownership supervision board, which will be given a completely independent position from the Government in order to prevent any debate concerning potential political misuse of the granted authority. Any rulings from the ownership supervision board may be appealed to an appeal board, which also will have an independent position from the Government.

The ownership board may act against acquisitions of media which mean that the owner alone, or in co-operation with others obtain a significant ownership position, and this position endanger the purpose of the law to further freedom of speech, real opportunities to be heard and a diverse media picture. Certain guidelines are established for the future implementation of the law. It is stated that the criterion for preventive action is met if one party wants to obtain more than 1/3 of the total daily press circulation or if the acquisition means cross ownership between media companies that each have more than 10 % of the daily press circulation. The criterion may also be met if one media company will obtain a too dominating position in a local or regional area.

Currently, the law will only cover the main media forming the public opinion; newspapers and broadcasting. An evaluation will be made on whether the law also should cover the new electronic media. The law will be activated by the King in a governmental conference.


Go to Contents



Nordic TV in cable networks 

Give the Swedes the opportunity to watch TV programmes from other Nordic countries and let those who have cable TV in their homes decide for themselves what the offering should contain. These are the most important suggestions from the report on TV in other Nordic countries written by Mr. Lennart Bodström and submitted to the Minister of Culture, Ms. Marita Ulvskog on 28 April.

The report says that Sweden is one of the few countries in Europe where the TV viewers have few opportunities to watch TV programmes from neighbouring countries. For example, in Germany, Switzerland, Austria and Belgium the channel offering always contains channels from neighbouring countries.

The report also claims that the cable companies are reluctant to distribute the offering of the Norwegian and Danish public service companies in spite of the fact that there are no technical or copyright obstacles.

The report claims that the Swedish cable TV companies should be obliged to supply a public service channel from Norway and Denmark to Swedish viewers who want it for a reasonable fee.

The report also suggests that the subscribers should have a certain influence on the offering of cable TV companies. This could be done with the same methods that are used in Norway, where the legislation on consumer influence provides subscribes with a vote in deciding which channels a company should supply.


Pay-TV in Swedish Television 

Swedish Television (Sveriges Television, SVT1 and SVT2) should be allowed to establish a pay-TV channel in addition to the regular public service operation. This is suggested by Ms. Gunnel Färm in a partial report on "Pay-TV in Swedish Television" submitted to the Minister of Culture Ms. Marita Ulvskog on 11 April. The report is part of the consideration of digital TV.

Ms. Gunnel Färm suggests the following:

The pay-TV channel should supplement the programming of the current channels SVT1 and SVT2.

The programming of the regular channels should continue according to the current principles of programme selection, quality demands, reruns etc.

The pay-TV offering is to be distributed on the digital terrestrial network when this is extended. If other methods of distribution are used, these should use digital technology and in the long run be available to the major part of the population. If several methods of distribution are used for the Swedish Television pay-TV offering, it should be possible to use the same decoder to receive it, regardless of distribution method.

The pay-TV activity should be handled by one or more companies which are fully owned by Swedish Television or where the company at least is the majority owner.

The pay-TV is to be financed by fees from those who use it. Full financing is the aim. Funds from the radio account may only be used as share capital in the pay-TV company, and not to finance running costs accrued by the pay-TV activity.

Swedish Television are to adapt their business principles when selling programme rights and technical services to their own pay-TV companies. When selling programming rights to other companies, this is to be done in such a way that the purpose of the own pay-TV activities are not counteracted.

At a meeting on 25 April, when most of the TV business was represented, it became evident that a majority was negative to the proposal.


Go to Contents