Current media inquiries in the Nordic countries

| 3 December 2015

In the Nordic countries a number of media-related inquiries are underway. In focus are the media market and the conditions for its operators, public service media's role and financing, as well as how media policies should be developed to support media diversity, freedom of expression, and democracy in the future.

[This articles has been up-dated in April 2016, see text in small font.]

In December 2014 the Danish Minister of Culture, as part of the Media Political Agreement of 2015-2018, assigned an expert committee to prepare a basis for reflection on public service media in the media reality in the coming years.

Public Service Committee
The Committee (public service-udvalget) will, among other issues, establish some potential scenarios for what the Danish public service can/should be in the future society, and in an individualised and fragmented media world. The Committee will submit interim reports, but not suggest options.

In addition, the Committee will hold biannual thematic meetings with relevant stakeholders, spokespeople for the parties behind the media agreement, etc., for the purpose of reporting and dialogue within the various subject areas. The Committee’s first thematic meeting, “The rationale for public service in the 21st century”, was held in September 2015. The Committee’s work extends over two years, and is to be completed on Jan. 1, 2017.
About the Committee (in Danish)

Since August, the Ministry of Transport and Communications has initiated a review of the situation in the media sector in Finland and an assessment of the conditions for the Finnish Broadcasting Company Yle.

Review of the Finnish media market
In August, a working group was appointed to review and assess the operating conditions of the media industry as well as the barriers and competitive situation on the Finnish market. The group is to determine the impacts of media regulation and how public service, competition from the international media, and differences in taxation between the digital and legacy media affect the media market. The members of the group are representatives of the business and media sectors, and the work is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2015.
Press release 03/08/ 2015 – the Ministry of Transport and Communications

The working group submitted its final report on 07 December 2015
Press release 07/12/2015 - the Ministry of Transport and Communications
See also Nordicom's article of January 2016

The future of the Finnish Broadcasting Company Yle
In November, a parliamentary working group was appointed to review the public service duty and funding of Yle. The group’s task is to examine the public service duty of Yle - its extent, implementation and funding level. A further task is to assess the role and meaning of Yle on the Finnish media market as well as its importance in terms of democracy, freedom of expression, and diversity and independence of communications.
Press release 02/11/2015 – the Ministry of Transport and Communications

In connection with the presentation of a white paper (Stortingsmelding) on public service and media pluralism in June 2015, the Norwegian government initiated two inquiries into media pluralism and NRK’s financing.

Committee for Media Diversity
The Committee (Mediemangfoldsutvalget) was appointed to assess how economic instruments in the media sector should be arranged to encourage media diversity and a broad public debate in the digital media society of the future. The Committee will submit its report in the form of an Official Norwegian Report (NOU) to the Ministry of Culture before March 1, 2017.
Government press release 09/18/2015 (in Norwegian)

Alternatives for public funding of NRK
An expert committee will review alternatives for public funding of NRK, the Norwegian public service company. The expert group will assess how the ongoing media development can affect the efficiency of today’s system of licensing fees. The group’s mandate is also to assess various alternative future models for public funding of NRK, and the degree to which the different models safeguard NRK’s need for editorial independence, legitimacy among the population, and financial stability over time. The group will deliver its report on July 1, 2016.
Government press release 02/10/2015 (in Norwegian)

In March this year, the Ministry of Culture and Democracy initiated an inquiry into “A media policy for the future”, which delivered its first report in November. In September the Swedish Broadcasting Authority published a report giving accounts of two government assignments: the impact of public service on the media market, and a review of the system of the public service value test.

A media policy for the future
A special investigator was appointed to lead an inquiry into “A media policy for the future”, aiming to analyse the need for new media policy tools when press subsidies in their current form cease. The inquiry’s proposals will aim to promote opportunities for the public to access journalism that is characterised by diversity, objective news, quality and depth.

In early November, the inquiry presented an analysis of the Swedish media landscape from a citizen’s perspective (SOU 2015:94). The final report with proposals for new media policy tools is to be submitted by April 30, 2016 (1). It has been announced that the media inquiry should also draft a memorandum on public service media as a basis for a future revision of public media (2). About the Media Inquiry (in Swedish)

(1) February 2016: New deadline for the proposals is October 31, 2016.
(2) March 2016: The Media Inquiry presented a memorandum on publicly funded media to the Ministry of Culture.
(3) April 2016: The Media Inquiry published a research anthology: "Människorna, medierna & marknaden".

Public service media’s impact on the media market & public value tests
The report of the Swedish Broadcasting Authority gives an account of two government assignments. Regarding the first, an analysis on how the operations run by public service media affect the media market, the Authority’s overall assessment is that public service broadcasters cannot be seen as acting in a way that obviously prevents competing actors from establishing, operating and developing their media activities. Instead, the greatest influence on the media market can be attributed to the ongoing digitalisation and globalisation. As for the other assignment - examining the system of public value tests - the Authority suggests that other stakeholders than public service broadcasters should be able to request an examination of whether a service should be subject to a test.
The report, including a summary in English (PDF)

A public service-commission: After the report's publication a number of representatives from the industry established a commission in order to analyse the public service media’s operations and present proposals for the future.

April 2016: The commission, which is financed by Bonnier, MTG Sweden, Schibsted Sweden, Mittmedia, Bauer Media Group and the Swedish Media Publishers' Association presented their report "Framtidens public service".