Broadcasting and on-demand audiovisual services
Article | Last updated: 25/05/2023 | Ministry of Culture and Equality
Broadcasting entails the transmission of radio or TV programmes, the key element being that these are received directly and in real time by the public. On-demand audiovisual services are services that have as their main objective offering programmes that can be viewed at a time of the viewer’s choice.
The Broadcasting Act
Broadcasting and the provision of on-demand audiovisual services are regulated in the Broadcasting Act. The Ministry of Culture and Equality is responsible for the Act relating to broadcasting and on-demand audiovisual services and the accompanying regulations.
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 The Norwegian Broadcasting Cooperation's (NRK) organisation. The administration of the Broadcasting Act has largely been delegated to the Norwegian Media Authority.
In Norway, we currently have a public service broadcaster (NRK). TV 2 has an agreement with the state to provide commercial public broadcasting on TV which expires 31 December 2023.
The Ministry is responsible for the ownership government of NRK. NRK is financed by grants allocated from the state budget and is mandated to offer public broadcasting via radio, TV and the internet. The NRK’s public service remit is set out in the NRK placard, which is incorporated into NRK’s articles of association.
NRK is organized as a stock-company 100 prosent owned by the state. It is the Ministry of Culture and Equality under the Minister for Culture and Equality that constitutes the company's general meeting. General meetings are held annually in June. In Prop. 1 S (2022-2023), the government presented proposals for changes in the NRK placard and proposed a four-year financial management.
TV 2 has an agreement with the state to provide commercial public broadcasting on TV from 2019 to 2023. The agreement has a compensation up to NOK 135 million annually, including a reasonable profit.
The public service remit includes obligations to deliver self-produced national news programmes supported by a central news desk, Norwegian-language programmes for children and young people, first-time broadcasts of Norwegian film and television drama. The broadcaster will be required to have its main editorial office and central news desk at least 100 km outside of central Oslo. TV 2 is located in Bergen. TV 2 must deliver its programmes on both linear TV and nonlinear platforms.
In April 2023, the Ministry of Culture and Equality announced the possibility to apply for compensation for a commercial public service broadcasting remit. The Ministry will compensate a private commercial company for the net costs for the public service broadcasting remit, including a reasonable profit, with up to NOK 150 million per annum. The contract period will be five years. The deadline is 16 August 2023.
The radio digitisation
Radio digitisation is an industry-driven process.
In 2011, a broad majority in the Norwegian parliament adopted the criteria set out in the white paper on digital radio to permit national channels to phase out their FM broadcasts.
In 2015 the government concluded, on the basis of reports provided by the Norwegian Media Authority and the National Communications Authority, that these criteria had been met and that radio could be digitised in 2017. The national broadcasters – NRK, Radio Norge and P4 – in 2015 decided to phase out FM broadcasts region-by-region in 2017.
In accordance with a white paper on local radio, approximately 215 local radio licensees were in 2016 offered a free five-year extension on their licences; at the same time, the conditions for sending on the FM network were liberalised.
Since 2016, no extensions have been given for FM licences with significant coverage in Norway’s four largest cities or new licences announced.
Based on the Norwegian Media Authority's report "FM after 2021" from 2019, the ministry assumed in Prop. 1 S (2019-2020) that local radio stations needed more time to complete the digital transition. The grant scheme for local audio and video media was changed in 2020 to allow operating grants for the digitization of local radio and the general grants is increased to up to NOK 1.5 million per company per year. Furthermore, FM licenses for local radio were extended for five years, for the period 2022 to 2026. It is planned that local radio will be able to continue broadcasting on FM until 2031. This includes 23 licences, of which 22 already broadcast on DAB.
Under the Broadcasting Act, the Norwegian Broadcasting Cooperation (NRK) has a right to engage in broadcasting, all broadcasters other than NRK are subject to licensing.