TV rights to important events
On 29 October 1997, the Minister of Culture, Mr. Ebbe Lundgaard, presented a
legal proposal to the Parliament concerning TV rights to important events. The
proposal implements article 3a in the revised EU directive concerning "TV
without borders" (the European Parliament and the Council's directive no.
97/36/EU of 30 June 1997).
The proposal gives the Minister of Culture the authority to give rules for the
TV stations to exploit sole rights to important events. The proposed authority
is to be used to publish a list of events which TV stations that cannot be
received by a significant part of the population or pay channels cannot
broadcast alone. The purpose is to secure that all viewers have the opportunity
to follow events of significant social importance on TV without having to pay
extra for it. Typically, such events will be sports events.
The background for the proposal is that the prices of TV rights to major sports
events have risen explosively the last few years. The competition in the market
has increased the risk that only TV stations financed by direct user payment
can afford to show the events in question. The consequence will be that a large
part of the population cannot follow the events on TV.
The events may be national or international, and the TV rights are often
negotiated at the international level. In order to make the arrangement as
efficient as possible, it is a part of the EU directive and thus the proposal
states that the membership countries are obliged to mutually respect each
It follows from the directive that the events in the list should be of
significant social interest, and unique. In addition, the event should be put
on by an organisation or a person who has the right to sell the rights that
apply to the event. In practice, this partially means that the list - at least
currently - will only consist of sport events. In establishing the list,
emphasis will be put on whether the event normally is followed by many
viewers and whether the event traditionally is centrally placed in Danish
sports culture. This means that the importance of the event does not have to
depend on the top effort of a given sports star.
Approval by the European Commission
The proposed list, which has been put together after negotiations with sports
organisations and the TV stations, includes the following events: Olympic
games, summer and winter. European and world championships in soccer (men) -
all games with Danish participation, and semifinals and finals. European and
world championships in handball (men and women) - all matches with Danish
participation, and semi-finals and finals. Denmark's qualification games for
European and world championships in soccer (men). Denmark's qualification games
for European and world championships in handball (women). It is stated that the
list may be changed, so that it continually contains relevant events. When
changes are made, the sports organisations and TV stations will be consulted.
The list is to be approved by the European Commission, and will later be
published in the EU Times.
Since the main purpose of the proposal is to ensure that a significant part of
the population has access to the follow the events on non-payment TV, it has
been necessary to define the terms "a significant part" and "non-payment TV".
Country-wide transmission network
Only TV stations that transmit their programmes on country-wide terrestrial
networks can be received by the entire population, i.e. Danmarks Radio and TV2.
It is understood that more than 60 % of the households today are connected to
common reception networks and that about 10 % have their own antennas. This
means that about 30 % of the population does not directly have access to an
event which is transmitted by cable or satellite TV. According to the proposal,
the percentage is so high that only Danmarks Radio (but not DR2) and TV2 at
present meet the purpose of the proposal.
According to the proposal, "non-payment TV" includes all channels where the
viewer does not pay separately more than DKK 25 per month. Licence and payment
for being connected to a common reception network is not considered extra
Due to the independence of the TV stations, the arrangement does not mean that
Danmarks Radio and TV2 are obliged to transmit the events in question. The sole
rights to an event which none of the two want to transmit, may then be used by
the rights owner, for example, the satellite, cable or payment TV station. In
addition, the owner of the sole rights is always allowed to transmit an event,
given that Danmarks Radio or TV2 also has the opportunity.
In the announcement, it is furthermore the purpose to state that the event
preferably is to be transmitted live by Danmarks Radio or TV2, unless it is
necessary or desirable from the viewers' point of view to show the event with a
time delay. In addition, rules will be made stating that Danmarks Radio or TV2
are obliged to informed the holder of the rights whether they want to transmit
the event at all, and whether it will be sent live or time delayed.
Finally, it should be stated that any conflicts with pricing of TV rights are
to be handled by the council of competition, which will make a statement in
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YLE to be financed by licence only?
The activity of Rundradion Ab (YLE) may now be financed by licence fees only.
This is suggested in a consultancy report ordered by the Ministry of Traffic.
The report is written by the re institute of business, and it states that
one should abstain from fees for public services. It is argued that the fees
paid by commercial TV channels to Rundradion skews the competition for viewers.
Rather than a fee for public services, licence fees should be collected from
the commercial channels.
Licence fee covers 76 %
The Ministry of Traffic commissioned a report on different ways to finance
public services, since a new broadcasting law is under preparation. The
legislation will contain paragraphs on financing of public service radio and
The Ministry has not yet evaluated the report, but it is being handled by the
group of ministers in charge of the new legislation. Currently, 76 % of the
expenses of Rundradion Ab are covered by TV licences and 14 % by the fee for
public services that commercial TV pays.
In the report, it is suggested that the financing of Rundradion should be based
entirely on licence fees, since this is considered to clarify the situation. To
forsake the public service fee should separate the financing of Rundradion and
the commercial companies. Income from commercials or use of public funds are
not seen as alternatives, since they would tie Rundradion to announcers and to
the political system. Even the owner's possibilities to control the efficiency
of the company and the technological challenges speak for financing by licences
fees, according to the report.
In the report, it is discussed how the financial deficit of Rundradion should
be covered if the public service fee is dropped. For example, the licence fees
may be increased, the activity could be made more effective and it is also
possible to sell property. This may mean a commercialisation of the
Instead of the fee for public service, commercial TV and radio channels should
be made to pay licence fees. This should be collected directly to the
government as a tax. The collection of TV licence fees should, according to the
report, be a task for Rundradion. The income should be transferred directly to
the company without having to go through a radio fund.
The press support board suggests changes in the press support
The governmental press support board has made a proposal to the Ministry of
Traffic about a decline of the selective press support from 1999. However, the
parliamentary press support will be maintained. After the selective support has
been declined, the parliamentary support will be paid to an amount of FIM 75
million per year, i.e. equal to the entire current support.
According to the proposal, the press support should be transformed to a support
for public mass communication. The political parties may use this to support
their papers and comparable electronic publication.
It is argued that the competition area of the newspapers has changed. The
selective support has been channelled to the political papers, since other
papers which are not market leaders in the area and should receive support
hardly exist any longer. Even the competition authorities have pointed out the
disadvantages of the current system.
The parliamentary support is currently distributed to parties according to
their number of parliamentary members. In the budget proposition for 1998, the
total support is FIM 75 million, of which FIM 40 million is for the selective
support and FIM 35 million for the parliamentary support.
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Legislation against computer crime
A Ministry of Justice commission will soon present a law proposal for changes
in the penalty code to include penalties for computer crime. This includes
various illegal activities that are carried out with computers or directed
towards computers, software or data stored in computers or on digital format.
The proposal recommends that the current paragraphs for document forgery, theft
and damage to property may be used also to cover computer crime. It is also
proposed that breaking into computer systems, which is an increasing problem
in Iceland, is to be considered criminal.
Software export for ISK 1.700 million
The export value of Icelandic software firms is expected to reach DKK 170
million this year, compared to DKK 110 million last year, and 30 million above
the prognoses. The software income has grown fast from DKK 2,5 million in 1990,
and has been more than quadrupled over the last three years. The figures are
publicised in the September issue of the monthly economic figures from the
central bank (Seðlabanki Íslands).
The results are calculated based on figures from 40 companies that only work
with software development. More than half of the export goes to the USA, DKK 60
million last year, to other Nordic countries for 20 million and other European
countries for 18,8 million. Of this, 7 million went to England. Income from
Asian sales reached DKK 11,8 million last year.
Now 28.000 active Internet users
Recently, an Internet users organisation was formed in Iceland, and this is
probably the first common forum for such users in Iceland. About 40 % of
Icelandic nation now has access to the net, and there are about 28.000 active
The main goal of the organisation is to secure the growth of Internet in
Iceland, to change the public attitude to Internet users and their
organisations that have not been equally visible in the public debate, such as
organisations for teachers, disabled persons and the entire culture sector.
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New government in Norway
The September general election led to the resignation of the Labour government
in October. It was followed by a government consisting of three parties in the
middle of the political spectrum. Ms. Anne Enger Lahnstein, who leads
Senterpartiet, is the new Minister of Culture.
The parties in the government coalition made a statement concerning the
basis of the policies. It contains some signals concerning the goals for the
The statement says that issues like new forms of editorial responsibility in
emerging electronic media will be evaluate from a principal and legal point of
view. Likewise, issues concerning copyright legislation for net based
publications will be evaluated. It will be important to ensure equal access to
new forms of electronic communication and media so that new social barriers are
not introduced, nor differences between generations and sexes.
The government parties furthermore signal that they want to work for a
reduction of video violence and b renderings of violence in films and news
NRK is secured
The government parties want to secure that NRK remains a licence financed
public service broadcaster with limited sponsoring. More emphasis will be put
on local transmissions and productions. The district offices are to be further
developed as b and independent units. The government parties emphasise
that local radio and TV are important factors in the local media picture, and
that they should enjoy reasonable working conditions.
Nordic Shopping Channel
In co-operation with TV2, Telenor and others, NRK is planning to establish a
satellite based channel for TV shop transmissions. According to the plan,
Nordic Shopping Channel will broadcast from London. In the beginning, the
transmissions will target the Norwegian market. The participant`s aim is to
target other Nordic countries later.
If NRK participates, it will be through its fully owned daughter company NRK
Aktivum. This company was established in 1997 and took over the commercial
activity which previously was handled by the various departments and divisions
in NRK. The purpose is to achieve a commercial yield by, for example, rental of
production equipment or sale of transmission rights. From the Government's
point of view, all programming in NRK should be financed through licence fees.
Some people have questioned whether NRK's participation in Nordic Shopping
Channel can be in keeping with the company's role as a licence fee financed
public service broadcaster.
It has been claimed that the establishment of a London based TV shop channel
represents a deviation of Norwegian legislation. According to the current
directive and Norwegian rules, TV shop transmissions are considered as
advertising and it is not legal to transmit more than one hour of TV shop per
day. For this reason, it will not be legal to start a TV shop channel in
Norway. The new TV directive, to be implemented in Europe before 31 Dec. 1998,
however, opens for up to three hours of TV shop per day on channels that
otherwise show programmes, or as pure TV shop channels.
So far, it has not been made clear whether a TV shop channel broadcasting from
London but targeting Norway is covered by Norwegian rules or not. However,
it follows from decisions made by the EU court that a broadcasting company
which establishes itself in a different country in order to deviate from the
receiving country's rules (de-localisation) under certain conditions may be
obliged to follow the rules of the receiving country. So far, the Minister of
Culture has not taken a position on NRK's potential participation in Nordic
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Introduction of terrestrial digital TV
Digital TV transmissions are planned to be started in Sweden no later than 1
January 1999. The Government decided on 13 November to start digital TV
transmissions in the terrestrial network in five different locations in the
country. In the first part of the development, transmissions are to start in
the following areas:
- Stockholm including Mälardalen and
- Norra Östergötland
- Södra and nordöstra Skåne
- Göteborg and surroundings
- Sundsvall and Östersund
In each transmission area, two frequencies are to be used for digital TV
transmissions. Each frequency is sufficient for four programme channels, which
means that there will be eight programme channels in each area. Six programme
channels have been made available for national transmissions, and the remaining
two for regional transmissions.
The purpose of the Government is to determine rights so that the programming
companies are granted rights to send for four years from the deadline when the
transmissions are to start. Important selection criteria which have been
decided by the Parliament earlier will, among other things, be that several
programming companies who are not co-operating should participate and that more
than one programming company should be present in each area.
Digital TV committee
A parliamentary committee will be appointed and given the task to follow and
evaluate terrestrial digital TV transmissions at the start-up. The committee
will also participate in selecting which companies are to be granted
Changed ownership in TV4
The media company Bonniers/Marieberg has increased its ownership part in the
Swedish media market. Marieberg is currently the largest single owner in a new
Finnish company, Alma Media Oy, which formally will be established on 1
The company consists of a fusion of two Finnish companies, Aamulehti Group and
MTV Oy. Marieberg had already bought shares in the two companies and owned 16,7
% of TV4. On 21 October this year, Amulehti Group and MTV Oy decided to
purchase TV4 shares from investors and Föreningsbankens, which together
means an ownership post of 21,5 %.
Marieberg will thus control a significant part of TV4, directly through its own
shares and indirectly through its ownership of the new company Alma Media.
Half a billion SEK investment in public service
On 13 November this year, the Government decided to support the public service
companies with SEK 507,5 million over the period 1998-2001.
Sveriges Television (SVT) will be given the opportunity to start new
programming channels and have already shown plans for, among other things, a
channel with quick re-transmissions of popular shows and a 24 hour sports and
Furthermore, they will also have the opportunity to send new channels via
satellite. 245 million of the extra funding is proposed to be used to finance
new channels and new distribution.
It is also proposed that SVT will receive a permanent support of SEK 75 million
yearly for particularly qualified programming of the types documentary, drama
and programmes for children and youth.
Law against concentration of ownership
The Government decided on 13 November to establish a parliamentary committee
with the task of making a proposal for legislation to protect the diversity and
counteract unwanted ownership concentration.
Local radio to be evaluated anew
The local radio committee's proposal for changes will not be carried out, the
Minister of Culture, Ms. Marita Ulvskog stated on 30 September.
"The significant criticism from several juridical instances has decided", says
the Minister of Culture in a comment. The leader of the Social Democratic
Youth, Mr. Niklas Nordström will instead, as an appointed evaluator, be
given the task of proposing new rules which contribute to diversity in the
future commercial local radio.
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