Broadcasting entails the transmission of radio or TV programmes which can be received directly and in real time by the public.

The Ministry of Culture is responsible for the Broadcasting Act and the accompanying regulations. The administration of the Broadcasting Act has been delegated to the Norwegian Media Authority.

The Ministry remains responsible for the ownership government of the Norwegian National Broadcaster (NRK). Under the Broadcasting Act, all broadcasters other than NRK are subject to licensing.

The Broadcasting Act

The Broadcasting Act regulates radio and TV broadcasting and on-demand audiovisual services.

The regulatory provisions of the Act cover matters such as permission to engage in broadcasting (the duty to obtain a licence), rules on advertising, sponsoring and product placement, retransmission via cable networks, the distribution duty and general provisions on NRK’s organisation. The administration of the Broadcasting Act has largely been delegated to the Norwegian Media Authority.

Public broadcasting

The objective of public broadcasting is to provide the entire population with access to a broad range of content. Norway has one public broadcaster (NRK) and three commercial broadcasters (TV 2, Radio Norge and P4).

The Broadcasting Act authorises NRK to engage in broadcast activities. NRK is financed by means of a license fee, and is mandated to offer public broadcasting via radio, TV and the internet. NRK’s social mandate is set out in the NRK placard, which is incorporated into NRK’s articles of association.

By agreement dated 3 December 2010, TV 2 AS undertook to offer public broadcasting through its main channel in return for a right of distribution via the cable network. On 10 February 2015, the agreement was extended to 31 December 2016.Radio Norge and P4 are commercial national radio channels with public broadcasting duties. As part of the digitisation of Norwegian radio, Radio Norge and P4 have had their licences extended from 2014 to 2017. 

Radio digitisation in Norway

In 2011, the Norwegian parliament adopted the official criteria for radio digitisation. In 2015 – based on status reports from the Norwegian Media Authority and Norwegian Communications Authority – the government concluded that all of the applicable criteria were met as at 1 January 2015, and that digitisation should be implemented in 2017. The following criteria had to be met: 

  • The coverage of NRK’s digital radio services must correspond to that of the channel NRK P1 on FM.
  • The commercial DAB blocks must cover at least 90 per cent of the population.
  • Digital radio must represent added value for listeners in terms of technology and content.
  • Affordable and technically satisfactory solutions must be available for radio reception in cars.
  • At least half of all listeners must listen to a digital radio station daily.

The national broadcasters – NRK, Radio Norge and P4 – have announced their intention to phase out FM broadcasts region-by-region in 2017.

The 2011 parliamentary white paper on digital radio envisaged that most local FM radio licences could continue to exist after the technology shift, but that larger, commercial local radio stations would have to make the technology shift at the same time as Radio Norge and P4.

As planned in the white paper on digital radio, the Ministry of Culture published a white paper on local radio on 17 April 2015. This stated that approximately 215 local radio licensees would be offered a free five-year extension on their licences and that the FM framework conditions would be liberalised, but that FM licences with significant coverage in Norway’s four largest cities will not be extended or re-announced once they expire on 31 December 2016. The latter category encompasses 23 licences, including 22 which are already broadcasting DAB signals.