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Fourth quarterly edition 1999
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The quarterly editions of Nordic Media, from 1994 onwards, are available on the net. Nordic Media is a summary of the contents of Medier i Norden: Resymé (Scandinavian languages news bulletin).

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  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 (previously Nordic Media News) ISSN 1396-934X – electronic edition.



7 December 1999: Media statement replaced by media policy initiative

Danish Ministry of Culture Newsletter No. 20/1999 states that: "It is common knowledge that a number of political parties have presented their media policy plans or commented on the topics to be covered by the forthcoming media negotiations in the newspapers, etc. In the light of this, Minister of Culture Elsebeth Gerner Nielsen has found it most expedient to take a direct initiative by presenting a negotiating plan rather than a more general statement, as had initially been announced for this autumn.

Negotiations on a new media policy agreement are scheduled to begin in January 2000 and conclude in the spring, thus allowing any necessary legislative amendments to enter into force from 1 January 2001".

Source: The Ministry of Culture

22 November 1999: EU directive "Television without frontiers" put to the test

"TV3 is behaving unreasonably, and I continue to hope that the station will soon come to its senses", stated Minister of Culture Elsebeth Gerner Nielsen in a press release issued on 10 November. "If not, I cannot intervene immediately, since it is a British TV station.. On the other hand, I can promise that I will go directly to the British authorities and ask them to intervene with TV 3. All EU member states are obligated to ensure that their TV stations respect the "television without frontiers" directive.

The minister's statement was motivated by the fact that TV3 was not willing to sell the broadcasting rights to the qualifying round for European football championship between Denmark and Israel (13 November) to Danmarks Radio. According to the Ministry of Culture, which complies with the EU directive, the national football match qualifies as a TV event of national interest.

"Otherwise, today (10 November) the Competition Authority stipulated the price of the broadcasting rights for the match at MDKK 2.6, provided the match is simulcast on several stations, and MDKK 3.7 for the exclusive broadcasting rights. Nonetheless, TV3 is of the opinion that the price is too low", according to a press release. TV 3 wanted MDKK 4.5.

On 11 November, Minister of Culture Elsebeth Gerner Nielsen wrote to British Minister of Culture Chris Smith, and received an answer on 22 November. A press release from the Danish Ministry of Culture cites Mr. Smith's letter: "... he would like to apologise personally for the fact that the government of England was not able to help the minister in her attempt to ensure that at least 90 per cent of the population could watch the football match", and he hopes "... that we do not encounter more difficulties of this nature before our regulations enter into force early next year".

The press release issued by the Danish Minister of Culture states that it is only a matter of time before the British will be able to help the Danes in similar situations.

Source: The Ministry of Culture

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17 November 1999: YLE sells a third of DIGITA

YLE, Finland`s public service broadcasting company, is to sell 34 % of its wholly owned subsidiary Digita Ltd to Sonera, the national teleoperator. The deal is in two parts. Sonera will buy a 20% share immediately for FIM 180 million. YLE undertakes to sell and Sonera to purchase the remaining 14 % by 31st March 2003 at the latest. The ultimate selling price will be determined on the basis of Digita's cash flow.

YLE will devote the funds obtained from Digita for investments in the digitalisation of radio and television. After a decision last autumn by the Administrative Council of YLE, Digita Ltd was launched at the beginning of 1999. The Administrative Council also authorised YLE management to negotiate over the sale of Digita's minority partnerships.

Digita Oy is responsible for the national broadcasting and transmission networks and for the radio and television stations. It is also responsible for the construction of Finland's terrestrial digital broadcasting network. Estimated turnover in 1999 total approx. FIM 388 million. The company has a staff of approx. 400. Digita's principal customers are YLE, the commercial television companies MTV3 Finland and Channel Four Finland and the only national commercial radio, Radio Nova.

Source: YLE Communications

15 November 1999: Proposed act to stimulate cinematic art

The proposed act makes stipulations regarding funding for the production and distribution of films and other picture programmes and other funding for cinematic culture in the State budget, the Ministry of Education states in a press release. The act would make it possible for The Finnish Film Foundation to grant some of the funding reserved for cinematic art: production support for producers, makers and distributors of films and other picture programmes, and other funding for owners of cinemas and arrangers of film festivals.

Like all culture in Finland, film is subsidised with public funds. The promotion of domestic film production and its distribution has been delegated to the Finnish Film Foundation, which receives an annual appropriation of some 44 FIM (EUR 7,4 million) for financing film, television and video production and distribution. The sum is used to subsidise about ten feature films and 35 short and documentary films annually. Finland also has a Television and Radio Foundation, which supports domestic production to the tune of FIM 12.8 million (EUR 2,2 million) a year. The Film Foundation promotes film culture and the export of Finnish films.

Source: The Ministry of Education

14 November 1999: Alma Media focus on New Media

The Alma Media group is one of Finland`s main media companies. The new media sector has been one of Alma Media's core development priorities for several years, and will remain so, Alma Media states in a press release. For this reason Alma Media decided in August to combine all its new media operations into a new division called New Media. This year the division's consolidated net sales will total approximately FIM 30 million.

Net sales from the new media operations in the first nine months of the year amounted to FIM 21 (10) million, part of which - FIM 7 (3) million is recorded as net sales from network newspapers under Alpress's net sales.

Mr Raimo Mäkilä, President of Alma Media Net Ventures Oy, was appointed President of the New Media division and a member of Alma Media's Group Executive Board on 1 September 1999. Mr Mäkilä also continues as president of Alma Media Net Ventures Oy, which is responsible for the technical maintenance, R&D and business development related to the Group's network services. The commercial and content projects of the New Media division have been placed within Alma Media Interactive Oy, whose president is Mr Jukka Mauno.

Alma Media's new media activities focus on portals, e-commerce and e-classified ads. Alongside the New Media division, the parent company is also actively involved in basic re in the field through joint projects with universities and participation in new media development projects. These efforts have already produced intangible rights, for which patents are pending.

Alma Media is the largest Finnish provider of network services. Its most popular network services are MTV3i, Iltalehti Online and Kauppalehti Online. According to a survey performed by Web Traffic Monitor, the MTV3i website had 193 000 visitors weekly, Iltalehti Online 146 000 and Kauppalehti Online 30 000. Almost 400 000 people use Alma Media's network services weekly. Alma Media's network services generated over FIM 8 million in advertising revenue during the period, which represents more than 40 % of the entire Internet advertising market in Finland.

Media portals in Alma Media are divided into three categories. MTV3i plays an important role in MTV3 Channel's programme marketing and programme information. MTV3i is a horizontal, or general, portal offering news, entertainment, , e-mail and other network services. Its content is also divided into subject areas, to enable more effective targeting of advertising. During the period MTV3i also launched its own Internet connection.

Kauppalehti Online is a business portal for people interested in business and investment. Besides advertising revenue, a major part of its income is also derived from content sales. Some 70 % of Kauppalehti Online's income comes from sales of content and services. With more than 30 000 weekly visitors, Kauppalehti Online is clearly the most popular business portal in Finland.

The third type of portal consists of local portals like VerkkoAamulehti, which offer high-quality services of local interest in addition to national services and news.

Different network services can be combined in all the media portals. During the period MTV3i launched a Finnish-language e-mail service called, which now has approximately 25 000 registered users.

The most popular media portals also function as platforms for e-commerce marketplaces. MTV3i's website, for example, includes ShopIt for e-shopping and eTori for network auctioning. Income from these services is derived either in the form of monthly charges or as a proportion of retail turnover.

Alma Media's electronic classified advertising is represented by DIME for property trading, Autotalli for used car sales, and Jobline for recruitment. DIME now operates in conjunction with 13 regional network services.

Last autumn Alma Media signed an agreement with Nokia to start producing services and content for Nokia's wireless terminals.

Source: Alma Media

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25 November 1999: Icelandic film grants in doubt

A preliminary study by the EFTA Surveillance Authority (ESA) indicates that public support to film making companies may violate the European Economic Area (EEA) agreements, Daily News from Iceland writes. The rules in concern were established earlier this year and give tax brakes to foreign companies making movies in Iceland. The amount can translate into as much as 12 per cent refund of total cost (movies costing under ISK 80 million (USD 1.1 million) do not qualify) and this is meant to attract more film makers to the country.

In accordance with the EEA agreement, the Ministry of Industry and Commerce informed the Surveillance Authority about the new regulation. The final decision from the ESA is expected before the end of the year. Minister of Industry Finnur Ingólfsson admitted on television last night that the rules may have been written too hastily. They are being reviewed and if need by will be changed in order to comply with EEA regulation, Daily News from Iceland writes.

Source: Daily News from Iceland

23 November 1999: The Icelandic population among the world`s most connected

Iceland offers more access to the Internet than anywhere else in the world, according to the country's leading Internet providers, Daily News from Iceland writes. Almost 76 per cent of the population between the ages of 15 and 75 years has access to the net while the highest number of registered internet hosts per capita in the world is in Iceland, say Internet Iceland Inc. (Intis), a company founded by members of the Association of Re Networks in Iceland (Suris) to operate their network.

Since Intis was originally founded in 1986, internet use in Iceland has proliferated at an astonishing rate. Intis now links to the net more than 2,000 institutions and companies and more than 20,000 computers via a 4Mb connection with the NORDUnet base in Stockholm and a 45 Mb hook to TeleGlobe in New York. The range of users of the Intis's service is varied and most carry English language versions. Among these sites are government organisations such as the Statistics Office, museums such as the National Museum of Iceland, the University of Iceland and associations such as the Icelandic Kennel Club.

Source: Daily News from Iceland

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1 December 1999: TV 2 expands its range to ensure licence renewal

TV2's licence renewal negotiations are scheduled to begin in early 2000. Minister of Culture Åslaug M. Haga and the new head of TV 2, Kåre Valebrokk, had their first meeting on 30 November.

"We are signalling a broader concept. I want more culture and financial news", commented Kåre Valebrokk during the meeting.

It is possible that other parties are also interested in operating a nation-wide commercial TV station in Norway. Orkla is one of them, and the Group's management is of the opinion that it would be illegal to renew TV 2s licence without putting it up for tender, writes Aftenposten, a leading Norwegian daily.

The Ministry of Culture must also consider whether a fee should be imposed on a broadcasting licence for nation-wide commercial television in Norway.

Source: Aftenposten

24 November 1999: Norwegian film subsidies - a response to EFTA's surveillance authority

A press release issued by the Norwegian Ministry of Culture states that: "Film is an important part of Norway's cultural policy", confirms Minister of Culture Åslaug M. Haga in a response to ESA - EFTA's surveillance authority for the EEA agreement. The minister emphasises that public subsidies are crucial for Norwegian film production. The point of the subsidies is to encourage people to make more films in the Norwegian language, reflecting Norwegian culture, society, values and traditions."

"Norwegian is a language of extremely limited diffusion and has a comparably limited film market with a limited earning potential and few opportunities to secure private funding. Without strong public subsidies, no quality films would be made in Norway. The EU itself is concerned about protecting the European film industry for linguistic and cultural reasons, and ought to understand the same arguments when they are applied to Norwegian films", comments Haga.

In a letter dated 12 October, ESA (the European Surveillance Authority) points out that total state subsidies must not exceed 50 per cent of the production budget in order to be acceptable in relation to the cultural exception for state support. A number of other requirements were also mentioned, for example, that the film producer must spend at least 20 per cent of the budget in other EEA countries.

The response to ESA outlined the existing film support schemes in Norway. Under separate cover, a document was sent containing a brief description of the subsidies granted to Norsk Film AS and its subsidiary Norsk FilmStudio AS".

Source: Ministry of Cultural Affairs

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23 November 1999: Digital broadcasts started – audiences slow to join in

The digital terrestrial television net is still not off the ground in Sweden. Digital cable and satellite are off to a normal start but there might be a light ahead with a new agent on the market, Boxer Access AB, renting boxes to the terrestrial digital users to be, as of November. But it is early days yet . The terrestrial net needs filling up with new and interesting channels for the presumptive audience.

There are new suggestions presented for new charters in a fourth frequence in the Swedish digital terrestrial net but nothing is decided yet. The first choice of the Digital TV committee is MTG (Modern Times Group ) with ZTV, Viasat Sport and TV1000. Together with the channels the group already has permission for ( TV3 and TV8) it would give them a whole multiplex. But this is for The Radio and TV Authority to look at and for the government to decide.

This time though it is suggested that the charter is granted first for three months and if the company has not started within that time limit the permission is revoked. This to avoid the same procedure as earlier this year with TV3 and Channel 5 which both have digital charters and were due to start like SVT on April 1 but so far have not started. Some others were also late starters: TV4 started in September and K-world (former Kunskaps-TV) on October 31.

The lack of channels is most likely the heaviest of the reasons that the digital terrestrial net is a disaster with only approx. 1.000 digital set top boxes sold so far. The reason, or one of the reasons, for commercial TV3 and Channel 5 not having started yet, is that the rules for commercials in Sweden do not allow for breaks in the middle of programmes. Both of the channels broadcast from abroad and the rules do not apply to them now.

The Digital TV Committee has therefore suggested that Sweden should allow for breaks in the middle of programmes. If this is realistic or not we will know when the Radio and TV Authority state their opinion later this year. The goal is to do so before Christmas. Then the matter is turned over to the government to decide.

Source: Ursula Haegerström/SVT/Baltic Bulletin

7 November 1999: Proposal for media concentration legislation postponed

According to the Swedish Newspaper Publishers' Association, the government has postponed the legislative recommendation and bill concerning an act related to media concentration which had been scheduled for presentation in spring 2000.

After receiving confirmation from the Swedish Ministry of Culture, the Swedish Newspaper Publishers' Association wrote: "The Ministry explained that it is necessary to wait for any proposals which might be generated by another constitution-related study, the Constitution-related Media Study. One of the objectives is to determine whether more forms of media should be given constitutional protection than what is currently the case. The study is also to determine whether the current regulations covering radio and TV broadcasts can be replaced by more technology-neutral regulations which are applicable to electronic transmissions. Such changes will probably affect the wording and concept formation in any media concentration legislation, meaning the studies must be co-ordinated".

The deadline for the Constitution-related Media Study is December 2000. Deliberations on the study will probably last so long that it will not be possible to put forward (any) proposal for media concentration legislation before autumn 2001. If constititional amendments are to be adopted during the current Riksdagen's term of office, bills must be submitted by December 2001, writes the Swedish Newspaper Publishers' Association.

Source: The Swedish Newspaper Publishers' Association

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7 December 1999: "European film subsidies equal the annual wages of two Hollywood stars"

"The highly publicised European film subsidies currently equal approximately the combined annual incomes of two American film stars, for example, Tom Hanks and Bruce Willis. Two Hollywood celebrities earn as much as is spent on European films in an unequal struggle against American films. That is pathetic", stated the French film producer Jean Cazès at a seminar organised in Berlin to discuss the future of European films, according to Ritzau/Politiken.

The seminar was arranged in conjunction with the 1999 European Film Academy Awards. The criticism from Cazès, president of the European Film Producers' Club, was addressed among others to the EU's Commissioner for Culture, Viviane Reding, who recently decided to increase the EU budget for film subsidies from 320 million euros to 450 million euros.

"A large part of the seminar was spent discussing the underdeveloped nature of European film distribution, the weak marketing of European films and the coming technological revolution that will make it increasingly cheaper to produce films", writes Ritzau/Politiken.

"In connection with the steady growth in subsidies from the EU and the individual member countries, Jean Cazès is of the opinion that more precise definitions should be drawn up regarding what qualifies as a European film ".

Source: Ritzau/Politiken

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