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First edition 1998

(Nordic Media from 1999)

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Denmark   |   Finland   |   Iceland   |   Norway   |   Sweden   |   Announcement

  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.



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 regularly.

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 radio stations.

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.

Own productions
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.

Independent producers
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 of 1999.

TF/NordvisjonsNytt/YLE Info

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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 TV2.


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 Norway 

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.

Policy memo
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 phase.

- 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 portable.

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 agreement.

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 concession holders.

- 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 cultural events.

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, 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.

Terje Flisen/Editor

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