svane.jpg - 8028 Bytes Nordic Media News

Third edition 1998

(Nordic Media from 1999)

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

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.



 More people will be able to see DR2

Today, Danmark Radio`s "second" channel is only distributed via satellite. This means that the channel may only be received by about 65% of the population. Significantly more Danes would be able to see DR2 if the TV station were allowed to broadcast on the vacant frequencies that are earmarked for local TV. The percentage of potential viewers would be increased to 80 without any significant expenses.

This is shown in several studies which the Minister of Culture, Ms. Elsebeth Gerner Nielsen has had carried out in an attempt to make DR2 available to all Danes, and also to start nation-wide digital TV transmissions on the terrestrial sender network. A report from Telestyrelsen now shows that it is not possible to achieve both in the terrestrial network. At the same time, the Minister asked Telestyrelsen to look into the possibilities for exploiting the available TV frequencies. The studies showed that there are a number of available frequencies, and that these cover a significant part of Denmark.

Inexpensive solution
Since then, Danmarks Radio has found that by using the available local TV frequencies, it will be possible to increase the number of potential viewers from the current level of 65% to 80%. This means that 23% more Danes will be able to see DR2 with a regular indoor antenna. This solution would be rather inexpensive – about 7 million DKK per year, and could be available in a year and a half. However, DR state that there is certain level of uncertainty in the calculations.

The Minister of Culture has all along the way said that DR2 should be available to everyone and that digital TV should be introduced simultaneously. If they are mutually exclusive, digital TV is given priority. With the new options, it looks like both the goals may be reachable – less 20%.

Currently (December 1998), the Minister is discussing the new options with the media spokespersons of the political parties.


More football for everyone 

The EU commission has now approved the list of the sports events that the Minister of Culture, Ms. Elsebeth Gerner Nielsen, feels that the nation-wide TV stations should have the option of showing – meaning DR1 or TV2.

On the list:
1) The complete Olympics - summer and winter.

2) World and European championships in football (men): All the matches with Danish participation, plus semi-finals and finals.

3) World and European championships in handball (men and women): All the matches with Danish participation, plus semi-finals and finals.

4) Denmark's qualifying matches for these championships in football (men)

5) Denmark's qualifying matches for these championships in handball (women)

According to new rules, TV stations from other EU countries may now show sports events from this list to Danish viewers, as long as DR or TV 2 also have been offered the rights to buy the transmission rights.

Skyrocketing prices
A new aspect is that DR and TV 2 will be given the opportunity to show both the home and away matches of the mentioned sports events.

The background for the new rules is the sky-rocketing of the prices to TV rights for the big sports events. It could mean that TV stations that only may use license fees or commercials as a source of revenue in the long run would not be able to afford to send the events – and a great number of viewers would be excluded from seeing them.

The list is included in a statement made by the Minister of Culture, and the rules are made valid as of 1 December 1998.


Report on hidden advertising 

The Radio and TV Advertising Board presented a report on 4 November 1998 about the experience with the handling of cases of hidden advertising. The background for the report is that the mandate of the Board was extended on 1 January 1997 also to cover the ability to make statements on the issue of hidden advertising in the programmes.

The Board has now had this mandate for almost two years, and has handled a total of 11 cases. The report is an evaluation of the practical and juridical experiences gained from the handling of such cases, including evaluations and suggestions for how the current rules possibly could be changed.

In addition, the Board makes rulings in cases on the contents of radio and TV advertising, rulings in cases about rebuttals, and it advises the Minister on the contents of advertising on radio and TV.

Initially, the concept of hidden advertising is defined, and it is shown how hidden advertising typically is "visible" in the programming. In this connection, hidden advertising is a manipulation of the viewer, exploiting the good faith of the consumers and their confidence in the neutrality of the transmitting companies.

Furthermore, the report contains a technical, juridical evaluation of the current administrative structure in connection with the treatment of cases concerning advertising and sponsorship in radio and TV. This includes a description of who is allowed to send advertising, how this is to be done, who may use sponsorships, how rules about hidden advertising are to be phrased, who are to rule in complaint cases and which sanctions may be used. In several matters, there are different rules for the various radio and TV companies. For example, DR and TV 2 evaluate themselves on how the rules are followed, while the other radio and TV companies are under the control of independent administrative authorities who exercise the control and make decisions.

Next, there is an evaluation of the experiences from the two year long trial period. The cases in which there have been rulings are gone through and discussed. The Board has only handled cases about hidden advertising on TV. Even if only occasional checks have been carried out, it is assumed that many radio and TV companies to an increasing degree are attempting to increase their revenue through other channels than license fees and regular advertising revenue. In other words, the programmes contain an increasing amount of hidden advertising.

In general, it is the opinion of the Board that the amount of hidden advertising is increasing, and that this development should be curbed, so that the traditional confidence to the media is re-established.

Changes are proposed
The Board suggests a number of changes in the rules on this area. The first one is that the opportunity to complain is extended, so that everyone may register a complaint with the Board about hidden advertising in programmes. Furthermore, it is suggested that a new clause is introduced in the marketing legislation, stating that hidden advertising is illegal. This will make the Consumer Ombudsperson able to use the general sanction mechanisms in the marketing legislation against those who advertise. According to the current rules about hidden advertising, it is only possible to place the responsibility at the radio and TV companies. Finally, a tightening of rules for product sponsoring of price competitions is suggested. The Board finds that it should be obvious that the prices in such programmes may only be presented in a short and neutral way. Furthermore, the prices in competitions for children may not be displayed. It should only be legal to give neutral, verbal descriptions of the kind of price. For example, it should be stated that one may win a game, a T-shirt or a teddy bear.

Changes in the rules of this area will require an agreement between the media spokespersons of the political parties. The report will thus be discussed with them. Furthermore, the report will be sent on a hearing. The result of this will then, together with the report, will be used as the foundation for a discussion on which legal changes should be made.


Go to Contents



New laws covering TV and radio 

Finland's laws covering TV and radio are being simplified and renewed in order to follow the development within the business. Through the new laws, the economic conditions between the public service and the commercial TV and radio companies are arranged. With the reform, the EU directive for this sector is applied also to Finland.

With the presidential declaration of 9 October, two new laws were affirmed: the law concerning television and radio activity, and the law for the governmental TV and radio fund. The new laws are valid from the beginning of 1999.

Difficult integration
Formerly, there has not been any complete law covering electronic mass communication in Finland. This has made the integration of the television directive in the Finnish legal system more difficult. The new laws also cover the effects of the digitalisation of transmission techniques in that the Minister may issue rules that cover the co-operation between the actors in this area.

The common rules and the time limitations for programming, advertising and pay TV transmissions correspond to the rules of the TV directive. For example, there are rules for the percentage of European programmes, the sending of advertising and sponsored programmes. The governmental council may decide which sports events are to be transmitted to Finnish viewers in the public channels.

TV and radio activity which is transmitted on radio waves requires concession according to the new law. The practice is maintained since the radio activity is connected to the principle of freedom of speech and since there is a limited number of frequencies. For cable and satellite broadcasts it is sufficient with a notification to Teleförvaltningscentralen.

Licence fee financing
With the new law, the financing of Rundradion Ab is secured. According to the law, the activity of Rundradion is financed through fees paid by the viewers in addition to concession fees which are paid by the commercial communication companies.

The commercial TV companies which have been granted concessions are to pay a compensation to the government for the use of frequencies. The duty to pay becomes relevant when the turnover of a company exceeds 20 million FIM. The fee increases in parallel to the increase in turnover. The current local radio stations do not have to pay a fee, since their turnover is below the defined limit. The concession fee comes into effect in the year 2004. The collected television fees and the concession fees are routed to the governmental television and radio fund, which in its turn decides the amounts to be granted to the activities of Rundradion Ab.

According to the new law, those who are engaged in television activities are to order at least 10% of their programmes from independent produces. Rundradion Ab and those organisations that represent independent programme producers agree yearly on the amount of programmes. The Minister's intention is to follow up the amount of independent productions that are actually used.

The Ministry of Traffic initiated a wide round of concessions this autumn, since the concessions for local radio and MTV are to end next year. In connection with this, even the first concessions for digital radio and TV will be granted.

Finland's laws covering TV and radio.


Alma Media interim report shows decrease in operating profit 

Net sales for January to September 1998 totalled MFIM 2,050 (1997: MFIM 1,961), an interim report from Finland`s new media giant shows. Operating profit was MFIM 164 (MFIM 190).

"Decrease in operating profit during the first half of 1998 is not expected to be recovered, although the operating profit during the last quarter is forecast to equal the performance during the same period last year.

Merger in April 1998
On 1 April 1998 Aamulehti Corporation and MTV Corporation merged to form a new mass communications company called Alma Media Corporation. The shares of both companies were converted into Alma Media shares, which have been quoted on the Helsinki Stock Exchange since the beginning of April. The merger was implemented using the pooling method and the two companies have operated with a single set of accounts since the beginning of 1998. This interim report presents Alma Media Corporation’s consolidated income statement for the period 1 January to 30 September 1998 and the consolidated balance sheet at the end of the period. The per share data for Alma Media Group are based on the Group’s January - September figures. The comparative data in 1997 are pro forma figures for the Alma Media Group.

Business environment
According to Addfacts Ltd, expenditure on media advertising in Finland rose 12 % to FIM 3.8 (3.4) billion on the same period in 1997. Newspaper advertising increased 12 %, magazine advertising 19 %, TV advertising 6 %, and radio advertising 20 %. The volume of TV advertising began to increase during the third quarter and in September expenditure on TV advertising was 19 % higher than in the same month last year.

Price levels for newsprint are almost 5 % higher, depending on the grade, than during the same period last year. Russia’s economic problems, which came to a head in August, have reduced demand, especially for newspaper products, and depressed price levels of all printed products in the Russian market. Domestic demand for printed products showed positive growth", the interim report states.

Also mentioned in the report is the fact that The Ministry of Transport and Communications has announced its intention to initiate a wide revision of operating licenses since the operating licenses of MTV and local radio stations will expire in 1999. At the same time applications will be requested for operating licenses for digital and regional television operations.

Read press release on Alma Media interim report.

TF/Alma Media

Go to Contents


Supports information technology with 2.5 million DKK 

Tele Island A/S and the Minister of Education, Mr. Björn Bjarnason, have signed an agreement that Tele Island in the coming years will support the development and use of information technology in Icelandic schools. Over the three years that the programme is to run, the school system will be supported with DKK 2.5 million in the form of equipment, free use of telecommunications and courses for users. The support from Tele Island is intended to strengthen the use of information technology in schools, particularly in the strengthening of data communication for remote studies.

Programme for school policies
The Minister of Education, Mr. Björn Bjarnason, regards the contribution from Tele Island to the development of information technology in the schools to be particularly important. Similarly, he considers it to be very important to use data knowledge and communication technology in the distribution of educational material. Among other places, this takes place in connection with the minister's new programme for school policies.

One is to work with the programme in two areas. One of them is the six schools to take part in information technology, the other is the support from Tele Island to re projects concerning the use of telecommunications and data technology for the distribution of educational materials from the governmental centre for educational material, such as video films, to schools and others who can use them in elementary schools or for other forms of educational purposes.

This project is located in six schools, three elementary and three comprehensive schools named by the Ministry of Education. They will be important in the trials in the field of information technology and will counsel other schools about the installation and use of information technology for educational purposes. Likewise, there are considerable great opportunities for the exploitation of information technology in the field of adult education, which plays an important role in the competitive status of Icelandic business life.


The negotiations of the Icelandic parliament on the Internet 

It is now possible to follow the negotiations in the Icelandic parliament on the Internet, and these are thus available everywhere in the world. This news item places Altinget among the national parliaments which have come furthest in using the options of the net for distributing information about what is going on. Altinget has also signed an agreement with Tele Island A/S that gives Altinget access to a channel on the broad band for transmissions from the meetings in the Altinget plus other TV material concerning the work of Altinget. Everyone connected to the broad band will have the option of using these transmissions for free.

New possibilities
This agreement ensures un-interrupted transmissions from the parliamentary negotiations through a medium which, according to the plans of Tele Island, will reach all the homes in the country. It also opens the option for Altinget to use the channel for transmitting other material at times when parliamentary sessions are not taking place. In this connection, it is possible to imagine transmission of informational material about Altinget on the broad band channel. Furthermore, the new technology presents opportunities for the party groups to present their views and the matters put to Altinget in separate transmissions.


Two new stations 

Two new Icelandic TV stations will soon start transmitting. These are entertainment channels which will not present locally produced material. Bíórásin (the Bio channel) is run by Íslenska útvarpsfélagið hf. (the Icelandic Radio Company Ltd.). Its management plans to transmit movies with Icelandic subtitles around the clock all days of the week. Films from all the major distributors will be shown, and spokesmen for Bíórásins say that a wider selection than previously experienced will be available. An average for 170 films will be shown each month.

Bíórásin plans to offer a wide selection of films of different types at times which suit the viewers best. For this reason, each film is re-transmitted twice to three times. The other TV station is called Skjár 1 (Screen 1) and this station started transmitting the first week of October. The transmissions from Skjár 1 are not encoded and the station is to be financed from advertising revenue. On Skjár 1, material from Iceland is shown in a mixture with foreign programmes, including films. There are no plans to start local programming.


Go to Contents



White paper on broadcasting and press 

The Parliamentary white paper on the media sector activities in 1997, which was presented to the Government on 20 November 1998, examines to which degree NRK, TV2 and P4 follow the current rules for public broadcasting. The evaluations are based on the report from Allmennkringkastingsrådet (the board for public service broadcasting) for 1997. In addition to this report, the white paper is based on the yearly reports from the public broadcasting companies NRK, TV2 and P4, and from Statens medieforvaltning.

The radio offering from NRK follow the principles for public broadcasting most of the time. The same may be said of the NRK1 TV channel. For NRKTO, it is pointed out that among other things, programmes about schools, university and education are lacking, as are programmes for children or programmes in Lappish, and that the percentage of the nynorsk language is too low. The Ministry has pointed out these issues to NRK.

Critical points of view
The report from Allmennkringkastingsrådets contains several points of criticism against the programming profile of TV2. Among other things, the council misses more programmes on art and culture, about the Lappish population and programmes for children. The Ministry has written a letter to TV2 and asked for comments to the criticism, and pointed out that both the Ministry and the Parliament several times have stated that it is presumed that the channel will make efforts to follow the principles for public broadcasting. Excerpts from the answering letter from TV2 are included in the white paper.

The Ministry of Culture is the body to grant concessions, and is now following up this matter with TV2. It emphasises certain principles that will be followed from now on. They include demands for cultural programmes, for the Lappish population and minorities, and programmes for children.

The white paper also quotes from the P4 comments to the critical notes from the Allmennkringkastingsrådet concerning the programming profile of the radio channel. The council calls for more use of on-the-spot coverage and more resource demanding radio programmes than studio items, telephone interviews and the playing of records. It also wants a wider offering of children's programmes and use of languages such as nynorsk, Lappish and those spoken by immigrants to Norway. The Ministry of Culture states that neither economical or other reasons should prevent P4 from following all aspects of the concession conditions.


Cuts in the press support for 1999 

In the budget negotiations, the coalition Government and the parties on the right agreed on a cut of 35 million NOK in the production support for daily newspapers in 1999. Originally, the Government had proposed an increase of 6.4 million NOK to 194.7 million NOK.

The support to the publications of the political parties represented in the Parliament is also changed. The largest part of the support will go to common information activities, so that the parties themselves decide which activities they are to be channelled to.

The support to Lappish newspapers of 8 million NOK and to newspapers for immigrants of 1.5 million NOK are continued at the same level, while the support for adult education and media re is lowered from 13.1 to 12.3 million NOK.


Law against political advertising in broadcasting 

The Ministry of Culture suggest a clarification of the rules banning advertising for various outlooks and political messages in radio and television. The proposal means a legal ban against such advertising. Currently, the ban is stated as a clause in the clarification guidelines to the law of broadcasting. The two alternatives which are proposed are either a general ban in broadcasting or that such advertising is banned from television, and allowed in radio. The Ministry also suggests clearer guidelines for the Consumer ombudsman's control that the rules for advertising in broadcasting are followed.

The background for the proposed changes in the laws for broadcasting and marketing is, among other things, that a majority in the Parliament has expressed that this type of advertising should be outlawed. In the memo which has been distributed, the Ministry states that by allowing such advertising, groups that are strong on resources will have even greater options of marketing their own views. It is pointed out that it is quite expensive to produce and air advertising on TV. Furthermore, the broadcasting medium is viewed to have a stronger persuasive effect than other media. The Ministry emphasises that the counter-argument are less valid for advertising on the radio than on TV.

Among the bodies that are allowed to express views are the press organisations, NRK, TV2, P4, other media companies, and organisations on the employer and employee side. The deadline for the hearing is set to 20 January 1999.


Extended opportunities for NRK business 

The Ministry of Culture believes that NRK should be given freer options for doing business in order to be able to handle the ever increasing media competition. The condition is that the programming profile in the public service channels of NRK are not commercialised, and that new areas of business are not subsidised by licence fees. Increased revenue must be plowed back to the production of programmes. The Ministry emphasises that the suggested changes in the broadcasting legislation that have been sent on a hearing will contribute to strengthen NRK's role as the most central public broadcasting company in Norway.

NRK of great importance
The development in the area of broadcasting makes it necessary to evaluate the role of NRK as a broadcaster in the new media situation, the hearing memo states. The commercial framework for NRK AS, which is a fully owned public company, will be of great importance in fulfilling the responsibilities as a public broadcaster.

If NRK is not given the opportunity to compete on equal terms when it comes to doing business, the Norwegian public broadcaster offerings will become poorer. In particular, NRK will need to enter into alliances with other actors when it comes to distribution, production of contents and rights to programmes and transmitting. The current rules restricts NRK from involving itself to the desired degree.

The Ministry of Culture thus suggests that the broadcasting legislation is changed so that NRK in general may participate in business activities, and this should not be limited to purposes that has to do directly with public service, which is the case now. The business activities of NRK today are mostly handled by the fully owned daughter company NRK Aktivum.

No advertising on public service channels
The broadcasting legislation states that the activities in NRK may not be financed through advertising. The Ministry suggests that the ban on financing through advertising is maintained for the public service channels NRK1, NRKTO, P1, P2 and P3, but that it is lifted for other activities.

However, the Ministry does not suggest that NRK is allowed to own, run or have parts in radio or TV channels based on advertising from Norwegian territory or directly aimed at Norway. If NRK should desire to establish channels in Norway based on advertising, the General Assembly may not grant this without the issue having been cleared with the Parliament. However, NRK should be allowed to run or partly own advertising based channels which only operate in other countries or take a general approach, such as Eurosport. The condition is that licence fee revenue is not used for the build-up or operation.

NRK should be allowed to establish pay channels, or enter into co-operation with other Norwegian or international actors about such channels.

The Ministry believes that it should be possible to open up for advertising in the teletext section of NRK TV. This must be counted as an additional service which requires the recipient to actively locate the service. In the legislation proposal, it is suggested that it should be stated that the teletext section of NRK TV is not part of the public service offering.

The deadline for the hearing is set to 20 January 1999.


Several media issues to be sent to the Parliament 

The Ministry of Culture is currently preparing a number of media issues that the Government will present to the Parliament. These include changes in the broadcasting legislation following changes in the European television directive, changes in the rules for sponsoring of broadcasting programmes, and digital TV.


Go to Contents



Evaluation of film support presented 

On 30 November, the evaluator Mr. Per-Olov Enquist presented his suggestions for the future Swedish film policies. With the stated aim of maintaining and developing Swedish film production, the evaluator has been given the task of presenting suggestions for how the future support of Swedish film production should be formed and financed.

The evaluator suggests an increase of the pure production support channelled through a number of funds. Among other things, a new Film and TV Fund, where Swedish Television is to contribute 35 million SEK, is suggested. The current support after a production is completed is fully dropped. In order to create better conditions in the entire country, a significant increase in the film distribution support is suggested, including, among other things, a new support for launching of films and increased cinema support.

Continued agreement solution
The total costs for the suggested new film policy is 436 million SEK, a total increase of 44 percent. As a model for financing, the evaluator suggests a continued agreement solution, since the current parties are supposed to continue within the agreement. Conditions for the agreement are, in addition to continued fees from SVT and TV2, a continued video fee, and also an increased fee from the cinemas. The evaluator hopes that even new TV companies will be added to the agreement. The increase of the Governmental part, if all else remains the same, will be 76 million SEK according to the model.


Prolonged evaluation deadline 

The evaluation of the future commercial local radio (dir. 1997:138) has been given a prolonged deadline, from the previous 1 December 1998 to no later than 15 February 1999. The evaluator has been given the task of presenting suggestions covering the future conditions for the commercial local radio, with particular emphasis on the introduction of digital radio transmissions.

The evaluation about the co-ordination of the laws for radio, TV and telecommunications has been granted an extension in the due date from 31 October 1998 to 28 February 1999. The evaluator has been given the task to look into the need for and the consequences of a common law, in order to simplify the development of electronic information services.

The deadline for the Mediekoncentrationskommittén to present suggestions for a law on media concentration has been extended, from 1 December 1998 to 31 March 1999. The purpose of the suggestion is to protect the variety in Swedish media and to counter concentration of ownership and power within the mass media area.


Go to Contents



Common Nordic effort for children's TV 

"The public service broadcasters in Denmark, Sweden, Finland and Norway will form a public company for production of children's TV and for the sale of spin-off products," NRKInfo writes.

"The will be established at the turn of the year 1998/99, and the production of the first programmes have already started. - This will make us stronger in the competition for the youngest viewers, says the programme director in NRK's department for children and youth, Mr. Kalle Fürst.

Tight budgets for the production of children's programmes is common for the public service broadcasters across the Nordic countries, and they expect that a common budget will mean significantly lower production costs and will lead to a better programme offering from the TV producers.

In order to develop the commercial part of the project, a co-operation has been started between DR Multimedia, SVT Försäljning, YLE Export and NRK Aktivum.


Scandinavian Television Channel for the USA 

The Finnish, Swedish, Norwegian and Danish public service broadcasting companies are planning a pay-television channel for the United States' cable television market. The channel will be targeted at people with Nordic roots, and all the programmes will have subtitles in English. It is planned to be on the air 24 hours a day, and will be starting up in Colorado at the end of the year.

TF/Baltic Bulletin Online

Go to Contents