Yearly report from the Satellite and Cable TV Board
The Satellite and Cable TV Board has presented its yearly report for 1997. The
Board consists of 5 members, which represent legal, technical, economic and
media technical areas, and it functions for a period of 4 years.
The Board makes the final administrative decisions concerning the issuing of
permits for programming using satellite and cable, when the programming extends
beyond a single local area. In addition, the Board decides on restrictions and
cancellation of permits, and takes measures against any violation of the
current legislation. Finally, the Board advises the Minister of Culture.
According to the yearly report, the Board issued 7 new programming permits in
1997. 2 of the permits were for radio transmitted by satellite and cable
respectively. The remaining 5 permits were for television, of which 4 were for
satellite and 1 for cable.
In addition, the Board has extended 6 previously granted permits. The
programming permits are in principle granted without any time limit, but they
are extended yearly when a payment of 40.000 DKK is made in order to cover the
costs of running the board. Also, each company must submit its accounts so that
the Board may use it to check that the conditions for the programming permit
are still met.
The Board also monitors that the stations fulfil the so-called quotas in the EU
directive "Television without Frontiers". Based on the information from the
Board, the Ministry of Culture reported to the European Commission in June that
one satellite TV company and one cable TV company did not meet the quota
requirements. As a result of this, the Board now checks these two stations
Finally, the Board has provided a number of opinions to hearings in connection
with the various legislative initiatives, the Green Book of the European
Commission, reports and so on.
Digital decoders from Tele Danmark
Tele Danmark has now made the "Selector" digital decoder available on the
market. The decoder is the first step on the way to transform the cable
TV-connections of Tele Danmark customers into multimedia machines which will
break the monopoly of home computers.
Among other things, this will make it possible for customers to surf the
Internet, to send electronic mail from the TV, to print out Web pages from the
TV printer, to order merchandise and to select TV films.
Clarification of rules for support
The Ministry of Culture has issued a new statement (no. 69) concerning local
radio and TV activities. In the statement, the rules for receiving support for
the group consisting of non-commercial radio and TV station was clarified.
The group of non-commercial radio and TV stations was established as a result
of the political agreement concerning media of 10 May 1996. 50 million DKK has
been allotted to the group, and the funds are administered by the Board for
Local Radio and TV, which is an independent board appointed by the Minister of
Culture. The main part of the funds is to be granted for running operational
costs, but projects may also be backed.
The clarification is based on the experience from the distribution of funds to
the group in 1997. The leading principle for distribution of funds in 1997 has
been that the stations which fulfilled the requirements for receiving support
would be compensated with a fixed amount per transmitted hour. Support was
given with the limitation that TV stations could not receive it for more than 7
hours of transmission per week, and radio stations for a maximum of 40 hours
per week. The amount per hour was 4.000 DKK for TV stations and 100 DKK for
However, this very simple principle has proved to be unsatisfactory in the long
run, and the rules have thus been sharpened. This has been done in order to
make it easier to reach the main goal for this group, which is to support local
radio and TV productions. At the same time, it is the intention that the new
rules are to curb a potential abuse of support.
It has now been made clear that the calculation base for the support will only
be the stations' own productions. This is defined in the statement as
programmes produced by the radio or TV station itself, ordered and controlled
by the station (enterprise), and co-productions.
No support will be given to re-transmissions and broadcasting hours which
consist of rolling subtitles containing information and similar programming. In
addition, the Board for Local Radio and TV is granted the right to issue lower
support amounts for programmes stemming from cable.
It is expected that the Board for Local Radio and TV based on the statement
will fix a higher hourly rate for radio and TV programmes respectively, so that
the local stations may receive a higher amount for their own productions.
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Proposals for laws concerning electronic mass communication
Finland's government in March planned to present a proposal to the Parliament
for revised broadcasting legislation. The group of ministers which has prepared
the modernisation of the legislation for electronic mass communication, fixed
the contents of the legal package in the beginning of February.
The Government considers it important that there will still be a communication
company like Rundradion Ab (YLE) in Finland to ensure the public service
activity. The main finance source for public service will, according to the
proposal, be based on fees paid by TV viewers. The current TV licence fee will
be changed to a television fee. Fines for illegal watching is to be replaced by
an inspection fee.
The activity of Rundradion Ab is to be financed by concession fees. Such fees
are to be paid both by radio and TV companies. The fee is to be calculated on a
basis of the turnover of the companies. Companies with a turnover of less than
20 million FIM do not have to pay concession fees. Under such rules, the
current local radio and TV stations would not have to pay concession fees. MTV
Oy (commercial TV) is to finance public service to approximately the same
extent as currently. Television and concession fees are to be collected in a
fund which is outside the public budget. Income for Rundradion Ab in FIM is to
be maintained at the current level.
According to the proposal, it will still be necessary to have a concession for
radio and TV activity. For cable TV transmissions, however, it will be
sufficient to inform the authorities. The concession is granted for a maximum
of 10 years. The law concerning Rundradion Ab will also contain changes in the
handling of the company. The role of the Board is maintained, while the
managing director will no longer suggest members of the management. This will
be handled by the Board itself.
According to the new law, the television companies are obliged to order at
least 10 per cent of its programmes from independent producers. Their situation
will also be improved by the resources in the radio fund, which are to be used
for independent programme production.
Rundradion Ab and the organisations which represent independent programme
producers are to agree on the distribution of resources on a yearly basis.
The new law proposals have been prepared by a group of ministers lead by the
Minister of Communications, Mr. Matti Auras.
The Ministry of Communications last spring started the preparation of a
revision of electronic mass communication legislation. The laws need to be
revised in order for Finland to co-ordinate the national laws with the TV
directive of EU. The law package which soon will be presented, will consist of
four laws. New laws are the ones concerning radio and TV programming and the
public radio and TV fund.
Digital TV to be further examined
The working expert group of the Ministry of Communications which examines the
question of digital TV presented a report on the digital TV services in January
of 1998. YLE started the trial digital transmissions last October. The
commercial channels MTV3 and Fyran are participating in the trials.
An inquiry to create a separate, independent company for the transmission
network of YLE has been presented for the Council of YLE. The Council gave the
management of YLE authority to continue the preparations, so that the Council
can make a final decision by the autumn of 1998. If the necessary deci- sions
are made, the new concern structure of YLE may become operative from the start
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Broad band - the future telecommunication system of Iceland
During the next 6 - 8 years, up to 80% of all Icelandic homes will be able to
connect to the broad band network of Tele Iceland. The network will be the
foundation of a complete telecommunication system far into the next century.
The system consists of optical cables for all the main stretches, both within
municipalities and between them. Optical cables are already in use for
installations in buildings with multiple apartments and in companies, while
copper wires are still used for other houses.
Soon, one will start to use optical cables for all new houses. In this way,
80% of all Icelandic homes will soon be connected to the system. The system
itself is completely digital from birth, except for coding and decoding
equipment for TV. However, already next year, new digital decoding equipment
will be introduced, and over the next few years, the system will be extended to
include interactivity. The broad band opens for competition in the Icelandic TV
market, which currently is restricted to two native TV stations; Iceland TV and
Significant growth in software export
According to new figures from the central bank (Seðlabanki
Íslands), the Icelandic software industry is turning into a blossoming
export field. Hardly any software was exported in 1990, but according to the
new investigation, the export income of the software industry reached DKK 110
million in 1996. It is currently expected that the export reached a figure of
DKK 170 million last year.
However, these numbers should be taken with a grain of salt, since it is
difficult to measure the exact export revenue which derives from the sale of
software. The revenue is not included in the export figures from the national
statistical institute or in other official documents. The income for software
companies does not all go through the Icelandic bank system, and it is obvious
that a good part of the export takes place through the net. In spite of these
sources of inaccuracy, it is evident that the growth has been quite
significant, and according to many, the national economical growth will before
long be based on computer and software technology.
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Implementation of the EU database directive
The Ministry of Culture has issued a suggestion for changes in copyright
legislation in order to implement the EU directive of legal protection of
databases. The Parliament has agreed to the directive being included in the
European Economic Agreement. Approved by EU in March 1996, it states that the
membership countries need to have a certain minimum protection for databases.
The purpose of the directive is to ensure equal conditions for the
establishment of database products and services within the inner market, and
thus ensure free movement of merchandise and services within the EU area. But
another stated purpose is to stimulate the willingness to invest, in order to
face competition from third party countries which dominate the global market
for database services.
Protection of investments
The directive does not make it necessary for substantial changes in Norwegian
copyright legislation. The copyright protection for databases as work of art
exists already, but in a few cases we will no longer be able to have such wide
exception rules from the exclusive right to databases.
The directive furthermore requires all databases from EEA countries which have
required substantial investment to create, to be given protection in the EEA in
such a way that the producer of the database has the sole right to authorise
use of substantial parts of the contents of the database. This is pure
protection of investments. Since Norway, like the rest of the Nordic countries,
already has protection for databases regardless of whether they are works of
art or not - the so-called Nordic catalogue rule - the implementation of the
directive on this point will not require substantial changes.
The Ministry of Culture aims to present a proposal to the Parliament for
legislative changes this spring.
Suggestion for the building of a terrestrial digital TV sender network in
NRK, Telenor and their jointly owned daughter company Norkring in January 1998
sent a report with an evaluation of the technical and economic aspects of
digital distribution of broadcasting in Norway. In the report it is suggested
that a terrestrial sender network is established in order to utilise new
technical solutions as much as possible in the areas of the country which are
least available for signal transmission. A coverage percentage of 95 is set as
the goal. The costs for the transfer from analogue to digital is estimated at
1.9 billion NOK for the period up to 2015. A terrestrial sender network will in
the start-up phase give room for approximately 8 channels. This number may be
increased to 16 when the analogue transmissions are terminated.
Based on this technical and economic report, NRK has sent a policy memo to the
Ministry of Culture. The memo contains the following main conclusions;
- NRK does not, as a licence financed public service channel, have the economic
foundation to cover the costs for parallel analogue and digital transmission in
the transition phase. NRK thus asks its owner for additional funding in this
- NRK should be allowed to enter business alliances and to establish new
channels made possible by the digitalisation and which thus may create new
sources of revenue for the company.
- NRK wants to go for a terrestrial sender network for the following reasons;
(1) a terrestrial sender network is most cost efficient when it comes to the
distribution of regional transmissions, (2) it allows greater flexibility for
regional transmissions and (3) it makes reception of signals mobile and
The Ministry of Culture aims to present a White Paper to the Parliament on the
introduction of digital TV in Norway during 1998.
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Report on magazine distribution
Magazine distribution has been a serious problem in Sweden for a long time,
both to subscribers and to buyers of single issues. The postage costs have
risen dramatically, and at the same time, the previous organisation for single
issue distribution (Presam) has been terminated.
The currently dominating distribution company is Tidsam, owned by the larger
magazine companies - mainly the Bonnier group - now has 80% of the market in
the distribution of single issue magazines. A report about magazine
distribution, written by the culture journalist Mr. Peter O. Nilsson, has now
been presented to the Ministry of Culture. The report provides an overview of
the market and analyses the problems encountered by magazines with different
circulation sizes. The largest chains of magazine shops, Pressbyrån, has
incidentally been taken over by the Norwegian company Narvesen.
New film agreement
The Ministry of Culture has made an agreement with the film industry, Swedish
Television and TV4 AB about a financing agreement for support of Swedish film
production for the time after 31 December 1998.
The agreement has mostly the same contents as the current film agreement, but
without the video business, which has decided to stay outside of the
The agreement is valid for the year 1999, but will be extended through the year
2000 unless the parties within 1 February 1999 has entered a different
agreement. During the time of the extended agreement, a special investigator is
to present an offensive base for the future film policy.
The investigator is to handle a number of different questions, for example the
position of quality film, the role of independent producers, film distribution
in the entire country and the economic situation of the film business.
New local radio rules
In a proposition handed over to the Parliament at the beginning of March 1998,
a local radio reform is proposed. Briefly, these are the main points:
- The right to broadcast local radio is extended to a larger area when
permission is granted to ideal organisations formed to broadcast local radio.
- Changes are proposed concerning broadcasting times and fees. The distribution
of broadcasting time will primarily take place through agreement among the
- Fees for sending local radio are abolished.
- Under certain circumstances, permission to broadcast to a larger area than a
single municipality may be granted.
- Finally, it is suggested that the ban on sending centrally produced
programmes on local radio is to be maintained in principle. The current
exception from the so-called national ban is extended to cover less than 10
hours per month for broadcasts which are educational or which transmit local
The new rules are suggested to take effect from 1 July 1998.
The investigation board for radio and TV has previously been given the task to
look into to what extent local radio transmissions contain material which
expresses threats to or lack of respect for ethnic groups.
The task is part of an action plan to reduce aggression towards immigrants and
the influence of anti-democratic forces, through increased knowledge.
Great interest for sending digital TV
The 2nd of February was the last day to apply for permission to send
terrestrial digital TV in the five transmission areas which are included in the
first part of the building of the digital terrestrial network (Stockholm with
Mälardalen and Uppsala, northern Östergötland, southern and
north-eastern Skåne, Göteborg with surrounding areas, and Sundsvall
and Östersund with surrounding areas.
56 companies have applied, of which 34 will broadcast in all the transmission
areas. The applications for sending regionally are fairly well distributed over
the various areas.
The applications have been received by the Radio and TV authority, which will
then suggest to the Government how the permissions for the four year period are
to be distributed. The authority will also this spring receive evaluation of
the applicants from the parliamentary digital TV committee.
The task of the committee is to monitor and evaluate the terrestrial digital TV
transmissions during the concession period. The Government expects to make a
decision on concessions in the first half of 1998.
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Nordic Media News on WWW
The Nordic Council of Ministers' Steering Committee for Culture and Mass Media
has decided to make the Internet the only publishing platform for Nordic Media News, starting from June 1998. This applies to all language versions.
The main reason for this change is to cut down on production- and distribution
time. When the latest issue of Nordic Media is published on the World Wide
Web-site http://www.nmn.org/, it does not matter where you live - the
distribution time is equal for all.
In other words; the current issue may be the last printed version of Nordic Media News. Look
forward to receive a letter from us in June, which will inform of the new
WWW-strategy of Nordic Media News.
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