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Second edition 1998

(Nordic Media from 1999)

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Denmark   |   Finland   |   Iceland   |   Norway   |   Sweden   |   Nordica

  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 action plan of the Danish Film Institute 

In April, the Danish Film Institute presented an ambitious action plan for the years 1999 to 2002. The plan contains a wish for more than a doubling of governmental support for Danish film. The money is to be spent on more films, including films for children and youth, improvement of the distribution and procurement, and a strengthening of the film museum.

With this action plan, the Film Institute has presented its bid for a collected strategy for the various aspects of Danish film, from production and distribution to conservation and procurement of the Danish film heritage, particularly when it comes to children and youth.

The film museum has not been forgotten either - among other things, a new film archive and an effort for conservation, preparation and procurement of the museum's collection of film and picture material.

The largest single element in the action plan is the increase of support to the film production from 100 million to 278 million DKK. The aim of the Film Institute is that the number of full length film is increased from 15 to 35 and that the number of short and documentary films is increased from 30 to 72 inside the 4 year period. In addition, new support for multimedia productions is proposed.

The Institute will partly strengthen the existing support, including the consultancy activity for full length movies and short and documentary films, and also introduce new initiatives like co-operation with TV and a particular effort for children and youth.

A completely privately financed Danish film today is a rarity. Normally, Danish films are produced with a combined financing between the producer and the Film Institute, and frequently one or more foreign partners.

The Minister of Culture, Elsebeth Gerner Nielsen, has commented on the action plan. She says she finds the aims to be quite high when it comes to the amounts for film support, but that she in connection with the preparation for the budget work for 1999 internally in the Government will discuss how the film support may be given higher priority. However, she adds that she does not find the time ripe for large building projects, and that it is more important to be able to make more films than to have more brick buildings.


DAB, the radio of the future? 

In December 1997, the Ministry of Culture established a working group with the aim of mapping the technical and social problems in relation to the establishment of terrestrial based radio and TV. The working group has now presented its report on digital radio (DAB). The group expects to present the report on digital TV by the beginning of July 1998. In the report, the working group recommends that terrestrial based digital radio in the form of DAB is introduced as a regular service in Denmark. The group recommends that DAB is introduced when Denmark Radio's current DAB trials are concluded. Furthermore, the group recommends that the transmitter network is established in phases. The first phase, where the road network and larger cities are covered, may be carried out over a period of 18 to 24 months. The second phase, which includes a fully extended nation-wide and regional transmitter network may be in place about one year later.

The group calculates that it will be necessary with a period of parallel transmissions, both analogue and digital, for about 10 to 15 years, corresponding to a normal cycle of exchange of modern radio receivers. This corresponds with the expected co-transmission period in other European countries. With a transition period of 15 years, the household costs for exchange of radio receivers will roughly be estimated at 500 million DKK per year.

The media policy agreement from 1996, which all the political parties in the Parliament (except one) have agreed upon, does not contain the introduction of DAB in Denmark. There are thus many questions related to the introduction of digital radio in Denmark which in the time to come will be subject to media policy negotiations.


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Prior evaluation of film changed  

The commission for prior evaluation of film in April presented a memorandum to the Minister of Culture, Mr. Claes Andersson. The memorandum contains suggestions for changes in the prior evaluation of films. The commission suggests that films, videofilms and other picture media intended for a grown-up audience no longer is to be subject to prior evaluation.

However, such films are still not to be shown for or distributed to youth under 18 without prior evaluation. The films are to contain information about the age limit. All films and picture media are to be reported to the public office of film evaluation before they are distributed and shown. In the autumn, the Government will present a proposal to the Parliament after the memorandum has been available for comments.


New legislation on television and radio transmissions in Finland  

If passed, proposed new legislation submitted by the Finnish Government to the Parliament would clarify and update regulations on the electronic mass media. The bill specifies the financial relations between public broadcasting on the one hand and commercial radio and television companies on the other. The reform will also implement the EU television directive.

Bills for two new laws prepared under the direction of Matti Aura, Minister of Transport and Communications, have been submitted to the Parliament. One concerns radio and television transmissions and the other a television and radio fund. The 1927 Radio Act, on which the present system of operating licences is based, and the Cable Broadcasting Act would be repealed by the new legislation, which is due to take effect by the beginning of 1999.

In Finland, incorporation of the television directive has been hindered by the lack of uniform legislation on electronic mass communications. The bill also takes the effects of digital broadcasting technology into account by enabling the Government to issue regulations on cooperation among radio and television operators.

European programming
The general provisions and time restrictions in the bill concerning programming, advertising and tele-shopping are in line with those of the television directive. The regulations concern for example the European content of programming, the placement of advertising and sponsored programmes. To ensure diversified programming, the Council of State would be able to issue more detailed regulations. The bill also includes regulations concerning the sole rights for television coverage of major sports events. The Council of State would be able to decide which events would be broadcast live to Finnish viewers.

According to the bill, operating licences for television and radio transmissions would also be required in the future. The practice will remain, because broadcasting is a significant factor with regard to the exercise of freedom of expression and the number of frequencies is limited. Operating licences would no longer be required for cable and satellite operations; notification addressed to the authorities would be sufficient. Operating licences would be granted for a maximum term of ten years. The State would declare the operating licences open for application.

From TV license fees to television fees
The Government's bill is based on the idea that Finland needs a public broadcasting company like the present Yleisradio Oy (YLE). YLE's function is to serve all citizens - including minority groups - on a non-commercial basis, i.e. without income from advertising.

Funding the operations of Yleisradio Oy - one of the major mass communications media in Finland - out of the central government budget is not considered in keeping with the principles of western democracy. Consequently, fees collected from users and operating license fees paid by commercial undertakings are the only sources of funding.

The license fee now paid by television viewers would become a television fee and the fines now imposed for watching television without a licence would be replaced by an 'inspection charge'. Some changes to the collection procedure would also be made.

A turnover threshold for operating licences
Radio and television companies with operating licences would pay the State for commercial use of frequencies. According to the bill, operating licence fees would be levied when the turnover generated by the business exceeded FIM 20 million. The fee would increase gradually, in proportion to the sale of advertising.

Existing local radio companies would not need to pay the fee because their turnover did not exceed the limit. The aim is that the combined public service fees now obtained by YLE from television advertising would equal the fees now collected from MTV3 and Channel Four.

Television fees and operating licence fees would go into a State television and radio fund and then be used in the main to finance the operations of Yleisradio Oy.

An external Board of Directors for YLE
The Act on Yleisradio Oy is being amended. The director general would no longer propose members of the Board of Directors to the Administrative Council; the latter would make this selection itself. The regulations would allow the Administrative Council to form a Board of Directors composed of persons outside the company.

Independent production
According to the new act, television companies would have to order at least 10% of their programming from independent producers. Yleisradio Oy and the organizations representing independent products would agree annually on the funding to be allocated for this purpose. The Government intends to monitor the amount of independent production used.


Year 2000 to be celebrated with a virtual Helsinki on the Internet 
Finland has the most Internet users per capita (almost 25 %), a new study from Computer Industry Almanac Inc. (CIAI) shows.

This makes it less than surprising that Helsinki Telephone Company has launched a project called Helsinki Arena 2000, which will provide access to a virtual Helsinki in cyberspace. As the first city in the world, Helsinki will have an electronic forum for the citizens. The project culminates in the year 2000, when Helsinki is an official European culture city - and at the same time, the 450th anniversary of the establishing of the city is celebrated.

NewsRoom Finland/TF

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A commission to consider privatisation of Tele Iceland 

The Minister of Traffic in Iceland, Mr. Halldór Blöndal, has established a working group to evaluate the consequences of a larger governmental ownership share of Landsími Íslands' (Tele Iceland's) status and opportunities, and whether it is desirable that the government sells its share of the company, potentially to foreigners.

The group is especially asked to look into which effects changed ownership, particularly in a case of privatisation, may have on the interests of the company, its customers and employees. Póstur og sími hf. (Post and Tele Inc) showed a profit of 195 million DKK last year, and according to the evaluation of the leadership, this is partly due to the strong position of telecommunications and the wide spreading of GSM telephones. The public company Tele Island a/s was started in January this year, when the activity of Post and Tele was divided into two companies.


American company buys 50% in an Icelandic radio station  

An American media company has bought 50% of the Icelandic radio company Fínn miðill (Fine medium), which is the third largest among those who have radio and TV stations in Iceland. The name of the American company has yet to be announced, but it is supposed to be a large company which runs both radio and TV stations in the USA.

The leadership of Fínn miðills claims that the said company will play a major role in the work of Fínn miðill's stations, which is something completely new in the field of radio and TV in Iceland, which so far has been handled by Icelandic people.

Fínn miðill has built its radio stations during the last 7 years in sharp competition with a number of other electronic media. The leadership of the company claims that the reason for the sale of half the company to the Americans is the fact that the very sharp competition in the Icelandic market for electronic media makes it hard to survive, since the companies operate under different conditions. The free stations compete against Ríkisútvarpið (Iceland's Radio), who competes in the free commercial market while the listeners pay obligatory licence fees to it.


New Icelandic TV channel for children 

On 1 May, a new TV channel was started in Iceland, based on programmes for children. The former president, Ms. Vigdís Finnbogadóttir is the protector of the channel. All the programmes are non-violent and either dubbed or supplied with subtitles. The children's channel will broadcast between the hours of 16:00 and 19:00 each day, and all day during weekends.

Daily News from Iceland/TF

Record audience for Titanic 

Over 118.000 people in Iceland have seen Titanic, Mr. Björn Sigurdsson in the Skífan distribution company relates to Daily News from Iceland. This is a larger audience than any other film has had in Iceland, at least since the statistics on the number of sold tickets were introduced.

Fridrik Thór Fridrikssons Djöflaeyjan, (Devil Island), launched in 1996, is second on the list of the most widely seen movies in Iceland. Björn Sigurdsson says that the aim of Skifan is to sell 120.000 tickets to Titanic, which equals 45 - 46 percent of the population. No other countries can equal such an interest in films, Daily News from Iceland writes.

Daily News from Iceland/TF

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The EFTA court supports Norway's stand on pornography on TV  On 12 June this year, the EFTA court supported the official Norwegian interpretation of the European Economic Agreement and its TV directive concerning TV transmissions of pornographic movies. The court states that the individual country may decide what such material is legal and may be re-transmitted in cable TV networks.

The ruling of the EFTA court is an answer to five questions which where posed by Oslo Municipal Court after the Government by the Ministry of Culture was sued by TV 1000, because their channel FilmMax was denied re-transmission in cable networks in Norway. The governmental film board had stated that several of the films that were transmitted violated the current legislation. TV 1000 claimed that the stopping of the channel was against the TV directive of the agreement.

The court ruled that there is no common European norm for what is pornographic, and that the Government of each country decides which norm is to be used. Furthermore, the court states that "Protection of minors is a legal aim for each partner in the agreement."

TV 1000 claimed that the films in question may be sent if they, for example, were broadcast late at night. In response to this, the court states: "The court does not accept the plaintiff's claims that programmes that programmes that to a serious degree may damage the physical, mental or moral development of minors must be evaluated in the light of clause 22, first paragraph, second sentence, and not have serious effects if the chosen transmission time or technical measures are used to ensure that minors in the area normally will not see or hear such transmissions."

The ruling from the EFTA court will be made public on EFTA's home page on the Internet:

Erik Togstad

The film support to be reviewed 

The Ministry of Culture will review the support system for movies. The aim is to make the film support as cost effective as possible, and to have more public friendly movies produced.

The governmental support includes all stages in film production, from manuscript development, project development and production support to distribution. The support is relayed through the public study centre for film, the Norwegian Film Institute and the Audiovisual Production Fond, as well as the Norwegian Cinema and Film Fund. In addition, there is the publicly financed Norwegian Film A/S and different Nordic and European support mechanism which receive economic contributions from Norway.

The Ministry wants to have an evaluation of the support mechanisms and if they are organised in a suitable manner. Re institutes and consultants have been asked to submit offers for such an evaluation, which is to be concluded by the start of 1999. Erik Togstad

Norwegian culture barometer 1997: Most go to the movies, fewest to the opera  

More Norwegians have attended cinema and sports events the last 12 months, and at the bottom of the list are the few who attended opera, ballet and dance performances, according to the culture barometer of the statistical institute in Norway. 60 percent of the Norwegian population between 9 and 79, and over 90 of the population between 13 and 24 attended the cinema in 1997. Only one percent never did, while 62 percent have never attended opera, ballet or dance performances. Since 1994, only visits to classical music concerts have increased, according to the numbers from Statistisk Sentralbyrå.

Statistisk sentralbyrå/TF

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Suggestion for sending permissions for digital, terrestrial TV  

The digital TV committee, containing representatives from all the seven parties in the Parliament, made its decision on 6 May concerning applications for sending digital terrestrial TV. The application period expired on 2 February, when 57 application had been sent to the Radio and TV authority. The digital TV committee suggested that the following applicants were given the permission to broadcast:

For transmissions in all the areas: Swedish Television AB and the Swedish Educational Radio (for transmissions in SVT1 and SVT2), TV4, Swedish Televison, SVT24 News Channel, TV3, Channel 5, Canal+ Television, KnowledgeTV in Sweden, TV 8, Cell Internet Commerce Development.

Transmissions in one area: Landskrona Vision AB, TV-Linköping Länkomedia AB, TV4 Norr AB, CBA Lokal TV AB (TV4 Stockholm), TV4 in Göteborg AB, the regional programme channels of Swedish Television. The committee has made efforts to find more than one company to broadcast in each area and to permit as many as possible to send digital TV in the terrestrial network. Variety in the programme offering is the goal, meaning that different programming services are to complement each other so that the broadcasts as a whole may be attractive to different interests and tastes.

A variation in the financing of the programme channels and in the ownership structure apparently also has been desirable, and also that both well established companies with large view groups as well as newly established companies are included in the digital TV offering. Local and regional programmes have been given preference, and also programmes which are based on Swedish culture. According to the decisions in the Government and the Parliament, TV companies that today operate terrestrial transmissions are given the opportunity to participate in the digital transmissions. Swedish Television AB and the Swedish Educational Radio (SVT1, SVT2) in addition to TV4 AB should be given permissions for such transmissions.

According to the Government's decision on 13 November 1997, terrestrial digital TV is introduced in five areas in the country. These areas are Stockholm with the Mälar valley, Norra Östergötland, southern and southeastern Skåne, Göteborg with surrounding areas, and Östersund with surrounding areas. The parliamentary digital TV committee has been given the task to follow and evaluate the terrestrial digital TV transmissions during the first period of these transmissions.

The radio and TV authority will hand the applications over to the Government with a founded suggestion for who is to receive permission when agreements have been made for, among other things, co-operation on various technical functions. The Government will then decide how the permissions will be distributed. Given the large interest in terrestrial digital TV and that many currently cannot be granted room in the terrestrial digital network, the digital TV committee has also suggested that the Government as soon as possible decides on further transmission permissions for terrestrial digital TV be made public.


Cable TV companies must carry certain TV channels 

"Today (14 May), the Government has sent proposals for changes in the radio and TV legislation to the legislative council" it is stated in a press announcement from the Ministry of Culture. "Among other things, the changes cover cable TV companies' so-called must carry obligation and the possibility to see important events on free TV.

The Government suggests that the cable TV companies are obliged to transmit up to four terrestrial TV channels without additional costs to all connected households. In addition to the three TV channels (SVT1, SVT2 and TV4) covered by the obligation, no more than one digitally transmitted channel from a programming company which is financed by TV licences is to be transmitted digitally in cable networks where there are other digital programmes.

One condition for the cable TV companies to be obliged to transmit the TV channels is that the transmission permission contains demands for impartiality and objectivity, plus one condition of a varied programming offering which contains news. The obligation for re-transmission does not hold for TV distribution through the telecom network using the so-called ADSL technique.

The suggestion means that the transmission obligation for the cable TV companies become less extensive than what has been suggested in a memorandum from the Ministry of Culture", the press release states.

The Ministry of Culture/TF

P-O Enquist to evaluate film policy 

"The Minister of Culture, Ms. Marita Ulvskag, has appointed the author and director Mr. Per-Olov Enquist to evaluate the future film policy", the Ministry of Culture states. "He is to map the current film situation in Sweden and hand in proposals for how future support to Swedish films is to be handled. The support may either be financed through an agreement model, or without such an agreement.

The evaluation is to be ready no later than 30 November 1998", the press release states.

The Ministry of Culture/TF

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"Telenor takes the Nordic TV market" 

"Now Telenor, together with the French Canal Plus, is on the air all over the Nordic countries with digital TV. This strengthens the company's grip on our TV screens. It will not be for free", the Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten writes.

"Norway is now taking the step into a new TV era. Currently, the TV retailers are starting to sell a box for about NOK 5.000, while the heavy marketing of the newcomer will take place in the autumn.

The box, a so-called decoder of digital signals, makes it possible for people with a satellite dish to receive up to 60 TV channels. In addition, music is offered (without pictures), in addition to other electronic services", Aftenposten writes. Canal Digital Norden, a co-operation company owned by Telenor and the French TV company Canal Plus offers this option.

"We are proud to be first and largest in Norway and in the Nordic countries on what we consider to be the TV technology of the future", says the managing director of Telenor Plus, Mr. Gunnar Bjørkavåg, to Aftenposten.

Telenor Plus is involved in Canal Digital Norden with an ownership part of 50 percent, which is the same as Canal Plus. The managing director Mr. Bjørkavåg estimates the total investments to be between NOK 600 and 1.000 million in the years to come. He is not willing to estimate when the company will be able to show a profit. - We consider the Nordic countries, with its approximately 10 million households, as a single market. Our potential is for about 4 million, among people with satellite dish and cable reception. At first, the offering is for owners of satellite dishes, while cable TV comes later. This year, we hope to get 40.000 subscriptions, while to goal is that the number will rise to 200.000 units yearly in the years to come", says Mr. Bjørkavåg to Aftenposten.

The Nordic public service and telecommunication companies last autumn started to work for a common standard, which will ensure a standard Nordic digital TV market. "NRK and the other Nordic public service broadcasters and the telecoms have agreed upon minimum demands for the decoder boxes which are needed to receive digital TV signals", the newsletter no. 5 from NRK states.

"The goal for the co-operation organisation Nordig has been to find a solution which makes it possible to produce more or less the same box both for reception through cable, satellite and a future terrestrial networks. This ensures a high production volume and thus a lower price", according to the NRK newsletter.

Aftenposten/NRK`s Newsletter/TF

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