1 June 1999: Yearly report from the commission on local radio and TV
The commission on local radio and TV has handed in its yearly report for 1998. The commission has been appointed by the Minister of Culture according to the law about radio and TV business for a period of four years. New members of the commission were appointed on 1 April 1998.
"As a part of the new order in the area of local radio and TV, a group of non-commercial local radio and TV stations were established in 1997, and these are administrated by the commission", the yearly report states.
"The group has been established according to the media policy agreement of 10 May 1996. The funding is at 50 million DKK yearly, and replaces the previous set-up for local radio purposes, which in 1996 was 7.5 million DKK. A significant difference between the previous and the current groups – besides the difference in size – is that there now is support also for non-commercial local TV stations.
Based on the commission’s experiences from the set-up in the first part of 1997, the Ministry of Culture established new guidelines for local radio and TV broadcasting which contained more precise rules for support. The most significant change was that only own productions were included when the support was stipulated. The new rules were put into effect on 1 January 1998.
In 1998, the commission has also used some resources on trying to avoid too much focus on the support, since another hearing has taken place with the local boards and the local radio and TV organisations concerning the support.
On 15 December 1998, an additional agreement was entered to the media policy agreement of 10 May 1996. Among other things, this means that the support for non-commercial local radio and TV stations is changed by 1 July 1999. The purpose is that the vast majority of the support means that are distributed are to be for programmes after a concrete evaluation of the applications. The commission must thus accept that 1999 will see another change in the rules for the distribution of support for the local stations", the yearly report states.
It continues: "In 1998, as in previous years, local radio provided most of the cases.
The commission has seen a tendency for the issues to become more complex. Several complaints contain, in addition to the actual complaint about a local board’s ruling with a rejection about programming licence or a withdrawal of such also complaints about a board member’s alleged bias, the board’s procedures for the treatment of cases etc", states the yearly report from the commission on local radio and TV.
Source: The Ministry of Culture
4 May 1999: Both DR and TV 2 want higher licences
"Both DR and TV 2 want increased licence fees for the upcoming media agreement, to be valid for 2001-2004, and the stations argument for getting more money out of the taxpayers’ wallets is that it is necessary to invest here and now, if the public service stations shall have sufficient means to face the digital future – both as far as technique and contents are concerned", Aktuelt Online writes.
"According to TV 2, they will need at least 300 million DKK in order to start the digitalisation and suggest that the money is raised by a one-time amount for the digitalisation and an increase of their part of the license from 15 to 24 percent.
The sum from DR is 1.826 billion DKK over the next four years – in addition to the 3 billion that DR already gets from the licence fees.
The extra money will, among other things, be used to strengthen the image of the public service station, so that it is easier for it to succeed in the competition from foreign and commercial TV stations", Aktuelt Online writes.
Among the wishes from DR are 400 more broadcasting TV hours per year, more programmes about nature and science, better news programs, more programmes for children, Danish drama productions and entertainment programmes. The purchase of rights to expensive sports events, better profiling of DR as a channel of culture, digitalisation of the TV and radio archives of DR and an exchange of the production equipment with digital equipment is also on the list, according to Aktuelt Online.
The paper points out that there may be a political majority to help the two Danish public service channels getting started with digitalisation when the media negotiations start after the parliamentary summer holidays. "Both the social democrats, the conservatives and Venstre are open for the possibility of giving the stations a one-time amount for digitalisation", Aktuelt Online writes.
Source: Aktuelt Online
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23 June 1999:
Decisions on licences for digital television operations reached in Finland:
Aim Is to Waive Analogue Technology by the End of 2006
"The licences for national digital general channels were granted to MTV 3 (MTV Group), Oy Ruutunelonen Ab (Channel Four Finland), Deuterium Oy (Canal+) and Wellnet Oy. In addition, the government granted a national licence for three digital special channels and a television channel that broadcasts regional programmes", according to a press announcement from the Ministry of Transport and Communications.
"The government made the decision on the licences for digital television operations on 23 June 1999. The licences were granted for ten years, from 1 September 2000 to 31 August 2010. The licences for digital radio operations will probably be granted this autumn.
It will take time to build a terrestrial digital television network that covers the whole of Finland. It is the government's objective that the analogue network, i.e. television services that are based on conventional technology, could be waived by the end of 2006 as the present analogue licences expire. The licence holders of the digital operations must ensure that by the end of 2001 70 per cent of Finns will be able to follow digital transmissions. By the end of 2006 the operations must be national.
In addition to general channels, a licence was granted to three digital special channels: movie, education and sports channels. Helsinki Media Company Oy was granted a licence for a movie channel that is pay-TV. Werner Söderström Oy was granted a licence for television operations that support learning. They are mostly pay-TV. Suomen Urheilutelevisio Oy was granted a licence for a digital sports channel.
A licence for regional digital television operations was granted to City-tv Oy, which is a chain of four companies: City-tv Oy Helsinki, City-tv Oy Pirkanmaa, City-tv Oy Suomi and City-tv Oy Turku. It is the view of the Ministry of Transport and Communications that commencement of digital regional television operations will be an advantage since they serve both regional and wider interests.
Digital licences are divided into two multiplexes. Cooperation between the multiplexes will, by far, be established according to the applicants' views. Furthermore, one multiplex is entirely reserved for the use of Yleisradio Oy (Finnish Broadcasting Company) in order to provide public service broadcasting.
In Finland, regular digital transmissions are meant to be started gradually from the end of 2000. The Ministry of Transport and Communications of Finland declared the licences for digital and analogue television and radio operations open for applications in December 1998", it is stated in the press announcement.
Source: The Ministry of Transport and Communications
9 June 1999: Report recommends re-evaluation of press support
"The newspapers receiving press support have become increasingly more dependent on the support", according to a report which has been ordered by the Ministry of Transport and Communications. "The papers are not economically sound, due to lower circulation and lower advertising revenues", according to a press announcement. "An investigation, ordered by the Ministry of Transport and Communications, also shows that the reasons for granting press support are unclear and do not support public business principles. The reasons for press support, its effects and future needs have been investigated by the media group at the centre of business economy re and education at Turun Kauppakorkeakoulu.
According to the report, the Parliament may choose between four solutions for the press support. The current system with a division into a so-called selective press support and parliamentary support may continue, the selective support may be terminated, new reasons for how the support is granted may be established, or the press support may be replaced by an information or media support. The report does not say which solution the reers recommends.
The Ministry of Transport and Communications ordered the investigation as a part of the investigation package that the Parliament asked the government to carry out. This was done in 1998, at the handling of the national budget for the current year. The Parliament made it a condition that the investigations covered the new communication forms and that the press support future needs and the reasons for granting support is clarified by the report.
In Finland, press support has been granted for many years in order to support the freedom of speech and in order to have a varied information offering", according to the press announcement.
In 1999, 30 million FIM has been granted as press support to 35 newspapers.
Source: The Ministry of Transport and Communications
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21 May 1999: Increased use of Internet
A new market re investigation carried out by Gallup in Iceland in March and April for the project management of a development project about the Icelandic information society shows that more than 82% of inhabitants in the age group of 16-75 years now have access to the Internet; at home, at work or at school.
The investigation is the third that the project management has carried out, but the other two were made in February and September on 1998. A comparison of the results shows a great increase in the use of the net in this period. For example, the investigation of February 1998 showed that 27.2% of those asked said that they did not have access to the net, but the number in the new investigation is only 17.7%.
There are many noteworthy aspects of the investigation. For example, women have access to Internet at home almost as much as men, but they use it significantly less, or an average of 2.5 hours compared to 4.7 hours for men. However, fewer women have access at work; 34% of the women have such access, compared to 49% of the men.
The investigation also makes it clear that there is a difference of net use based on location. In the capital area, 15% stated that they did not have access, while 23% of those in rural areas gave the same answer. By now, there is a computer in to of every three private homes in the country.
Source: The Ministry of Culture and Education
28 April 1999: Access to Encyclopædia Britannica
The government of Iceland recently approved the suggestion from the Minister of Education about signing an agreement securing the Icelandic nation’s access to the Encyclopædia Britannica database on the net. The agreement means that access is opened for all Internet users in Iceland, but the main purpose of the agreement is to ensure that teachers, pupils and reers have access to Britannica.
At the same time, Britannica has requested a co-operation with inhabitants of Iceland, asking them to come forward with material about Iceland for use in the encyclopædia. This is probably the first time the publishing company enters into an agreement about giving an entire nation access to the database.
Source: The Ministry of Culture and Education
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8 June 1999: Commission to investigate cinema policy
"The Minister of Cultural Affairs, Ms. Anne Enger Lahnstein, has taken the initiative to establish a public commission aimed at evaluating the Norwegian cinema policy", according to a press announcement from the Ministry of Cultural Affairs. "The point of origin for the commission shall be the target of a good cinema offer for the entire population, make a total evaluation of public policy related to the running of cinemas, including the municipal concession arrangement and measures financed by Norwegian cinema and film fund", the press announcement states.
The public cinema policy has enjoyed beneficial effects from a cultural and district political point of view. The background for the new commission is the structural changes in the cinema business and the uncertainty which has been created regarding the future cinema offering in Norway. The commission is to evaluate the public role in the cinema politics and provide suggestions that may ensure a continued geographically differentiated cinema structure. The condition is that the current division of responsibility between the central government and the municipalities is maintained.
The commission will consist of five members, and the report from the commission is supposed to be ready by 1 July 2000.
Source: Ministry of Cultural Affairs
31 May 1999: Media political statement from the Minister of Cultural Affairs
"– The main goals of the media policy remain the same, even of the technology changes. It is important for the Government that the freedom of speech is maintained, and that there is a varied and high quality Norwegian language media offering with a broad geographical spread", the Minister of Cultural Affairs, Ms. Anne Enger Lahnstein said in her media political statement to the Parliament on 28 May.
"– So far, we have done well in reaching our media political goals. The public service broadcasting has a strong tradition in Norway, and we have a large number of local newspapers that no other countries can match. Official statistics from 1998 show stable audiences both for the newspapers and the public service broadcasters", the Minister of Cultural Affairs said, according to a press release from the Ministry of Cultural Affairs.
"– The technological changes will particularly influence broadcasting. We are at the threshold of a change from analogue to digital distribution of radio and television. This will mean that the telecommunication, IT and broadcasting sectors will have a common technological basis, also called convergence. The broadcasting offering will multiple many times, with changed economical framework conditions and added competition. The Convergence commission appointed by the Government, which has evaluated the need for changes in the telecommunication and broadcasting laws, will present its recommendation in June this year", the Minister of Cultural Affairs said, among other things.
New competition conditions
She pointed out that the commercialisation creates new competition conditions. "We need to take the consequences of this, for example, by offering NRK new and competitive conditions. We must meet the negative aspects with an active culture policy. The enormous amount of resources which are available in our institutions of culture must be made available – whether we are talking about the archives of NRK, or collections in museums and galleries. We must not surrender to commercialisation. For example, the Government will not open for more liberal advertising rules in broadcasting. In the proposition regarding sponsorship, we have suggested a sharpening of the sponsorship rules for NRK. It is quite important to us that NRK really presents itself as a broadcaster free of commercials", Lahnstein said.
Lahnstein also said that she will enter into discussions with TV2, who want to renew their concession before it ends at the end of year 2002. "– I will put major emphasis on the responsibility of a public broadcaster in the discussions", she said.
The Government presented 18 June a new white paper to the Parliament about the establishment of a terrestrial digital sender network for TV. This will open for new interactive services, cheaper distribution and a better program offering. A deployment of a terrestrial digital TV network will in a period of transition lead to increased costs for the broadcasters, since analogue and digital transmissions must run in parallel for some years.
Source: The Ministry of Cultural Affairs
19 April 1999: Daily press commission appointed
The Ministry of Cultural Affairs has appointed a commission which shall "... make a total evaluation of public measures used that are relevant to the framework condition of the press. These include the press support, the governmental advertising policy and the system of value added tax", according to a press release from the Ministry of Cultural Affairs.
The commission is led by the economist Mr. Hallvard Bakke, Oslo, and the report is to be available by 15 April 2000.
The commission is to evaluate the press political goals in light of the media development over the last years, and look into the press' importance for the population's interest in public questions and participation in democratic processes. Furthermore, the commission is to analyse the economic situation for the Norwegian daily press and evaluate the form and the effect of public measures for the economic measures for the framework conditions of the press. Suggestions for changes must emphasize that support measures should primarily be targeted the press policy goals.
In connection with the handling of the budget last autumn, the Parliament requested a public commission to go through press support. It was emphasized that the work should also cover all components that make up the framework conditions. The press support is also to be seen as part of the entire media policy", according to the press release from the Ministry of Cultural Affairs.
The Ministry of Cultural Affairs
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10 June 1999: Strong initiative for Swedish film
The governmental proposition "New Swedish film policy" has been sent to the Parliament, and it contains suggestions about a number of changes in and increase of support for the production and showing of Swedish film, compared to the current situation.
"The proposition builds on the film agreement that the Government, the film industry in addition to Sveriges Television and TV 4 agreed on last April", according to a press release from the Ministry of Culture.
"The new film agreement gives Swedish film 385 million SEK per year from 1 January 2000. This is an increase of about 100 million compared to this year. The support is distributed in three areas:
- 207 million SEK are stipulated as production support for Swedish films. This is a significant increase, where the largest part is to be left as prior support for full length films, children and youth films, short films and documentaries and as prior support in the form of development support so that particularly inexperienced producers may have continuity in their work.
- 91 million SEK is intended for the distribution and showing of film all over the country, where a major element is heavy support of launching, support for the distribution of parallel copies, a stimulation support for cinema owners to show Swedish film in addition to an increased support of organisations with the aim of screening film and regional film activities.
- 87 million SEK is set aside for film cultural activities, which mostly contain measures for preserving and making available the Swedish film inheritance, and also support for texting of Swedish film and video and interpretation for vision impaired, and finally support for international launching of Swedish films", the press release states.
Source: The Ministry of Culture
19 May 1999: The report "Convergence and change – co-ordination of the laws for the media and telecommunication sectors" delivered to the Minister of Culture
"– The technical development means that the borders between the areas of IT, telecommunication and media are getting rather fuzzy. This creates problems for adaptation to the laws which govern these areas (particularly the law on freedom of speech, the radio and TV law and the telecommunication law)", states the investigator Mr. Leif Andersson in a press release from the Ministry of Culture.
"– There is thus a need for a co-ordination of these rules. The aim of the process should be to analyze the problems which have been pointed out and if possible develop a more effective and target oriented structure of rules. One of the aims is to facilitate a streamlining of rules for radio, TV and telecommunication businesses as far as possible. The expected work with the convergence questions should be co-ordinated within an inter-departmental framework", according to the press release.
The convergence report describes convergence as a phenomenon and analyses how Swedish law functions in this perspective. International law and a work-through of the work of EU on convergence questions are also covered in the report.
Source: The Ministry of Culture
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3 June 1999: Nordic digital TV co-operation in crisis
"The Nordic co-operation for finding a common operating system for the future digital TV receivers has reached a crisis", Dagens Næringsliv writes. "The common Nordic push to obtain such a standard, Nordig, will not be finished before the European standards organisation DVB (Digital video broadcast) has reached a solution. An in Europe, two different systems are fighting for the control of the TV set top boxes."
Mr. Johan Thorud, the representative of NRK in Nordig, confirms to the paper that the Nordig co-operation is in a critical phase.
"– We fear that this will lead to multiple standards on the market for a long time, so that the consumers will be confused", Thorud says to the paper.
Representatives from the French pay TV giant Canal Plus are also worried about lack of European agreement on standards.
"According to the Nordic manager Stefane France of Canal Plus, it is urgently important to reach a common standard for the Nordic countries and for Europe. The largest software company in the World, Microsoft, has starting buying into both the cable and the satellite business, and are already in on the contents side. Already, Microsoft enjoys a near monopoly on operating systems for PCs. Now, the goal is to place Microsoft software inn all TVs in the world", according to Dagens Næringsliv.
Source: Dagens Næringsliv
20 May 1999: More Nordic cinema visits in 1998
MEDIA Salles, the MEDIA II program project to improve cinema operation in Europe, presented statistics from 1998 during the Cannes festival in France. Preliminary figures show an increase of the number of sold cinema tickets of 6.6% from 1997 to 1998, or from 792 to 844 million tickets.
The numbers confirm the general trend in Europe, which has been visible earlier, except a dip in 1995. The modernisation and new building of cinemas, in addition to well-produced national films reinforce the trend, according to representatives from MEDIA Salles. A good example is France, where there were 21 million more sold tickets compared to 1997, an increase of 14.2%.
"The Titanic effect" hit France in 1998, with 20 million sold tickets for this film alone, while three locally produced films were seen by a total of 23 million people, according to the release from MEDIA Salles.
In Great Britain, 4 million fewer tickets were sold in 1998 compared to the previous year; 135.2 million, a decrease of 2.7%.
All the Nordic countries, except Iceland (-1%) had an increase in ticket sales in 1998. In 1997, the number of cinema customers fell by 4.7% in Norway and 1.2% in Sweden. The increase in 1998 varies from 1.5% in Denmark, 4% in Sweden, 5.3% in Norway and 6.3% in Finland. But we must look at 1991 to find a better result in Finland; six million sold tickets was the result in 1998.
In Denmark, the market share for locally produced films fell with 6%, from 18.8% in 1997 to 12.8% in 1998. In Sweden, the drop was 3.4%, from 17.8% in 1997 to 14.4% in 1998. Both in Denmark and in Sweden, American films increased the market share in 1998, to 77.8 and 76.3 % respectively, while the share of European film went down from 13.1 to 9.1 % in Denmark and from 14.9 to 8,7 % in Sweden.
1997 figures: "European Cinema Yearbook - 1998 edition", the 1998 figures are preliminary.
Source: MEDIA Salles "European Cinema Journal" N° 1/1999
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