A method to assess Norwegian media development
In a recent report, the Norwegian Media Authority maps media pluralism in Norway. This is the first step in a new model aiming to monitor and assess media development.
The Norwegian population has access to a wide range of media and news sources. This is according to an assessment of media pluralism from the Norwegian Media Authority (Medietilsynet), who has mapped the newspaper, radio and TV markets in Norway.
Applying a sender's perspective, the new media pluralism report describes the number of media outlets at national, regional and local levels, as well as the ownership structure in each market.
Other conditions investigated are the presence of editorial news rooms in different parts of Norway, the gender balance among journalists and editors, as well as the population's access to broadband and other media infrastructure.
A method to assess the development
The current survey is the first step in a new method aiming to monitor the developments in the media market – a media pluralism account (mediemangfoldsregnskap). Based on the media policy goals of media pluralism being a prerequisite for freedom of expression and democracy, the Media Authority works to identify measurable indicators to monitor the development.
During the year, two more reports on media content and media usage, respectively, are planned. Director Mari Velsand said the following in a press release:
The editorial media is an important part of the infrastructure for democracy and freedom of expression. At a time when these media are being challenged from many quarters, it is of the utmost importance to closely monitor developments in media pluralism. This is therefore a priority for the Norwegian Media Authority.
Strong sender diversity, but vulnerable at the local level
The Media Authority’s results indicate a strong sender diversity in Norway. The population has access to a wide range of media, especially at national and local levels. At the regional level, the players are few, making public broadcaster NRK's regional presence important. Broadband access is widespread.
The markets for national TV and radio are stable in terms of the number of owners and the market shares between them. At the same time, the Norwegian players face strong and growing competition from the popular global streaming players.
In the newspaper and local radio industries, ownership concentration is increasing. More and more newspapers and radio stations are gathered under fewer and larger owners, which can have both negative and positive effects on diversity – negative if the content becomes more similar and positive if the smaller players can get help with the digitalisation process.
The digital transition is demanding for the media industry, states the Media Authority, concerned especially about the small players. Mari Velsand adds, “the sender pluralism on the local level is vulnerable, and here it will be important to monitor developments closely”.
Open Access database on Norwegian media
Another ingredient in the media market monitoring is a new media database, launched by the Media Authority in March. This Open Access database lists the Norwegian media, where they are located and who owns them, including almost 300 newspapers and around 400 local radio stations, 30 national radio channels and 30 TV channels.
Read the news on the Media Authority's website (in Norwegian):
25 February 2020: Medietilsynet med nytt mediemangfoldsregnskap: Sterkt avsendermangfold, men krevende for de små aktørene [Media Authority with new media pluralism account: Strong sender pluralism, but demanding for the small players]
23 March 2020: Ny mediedatabase fra Medietilsynet: Informasjon om norske medier på ett sted [New media database from the Media Authority: Information on Norwegian media in one place]
More reading in English: The Norwegian Government: Media Policy in Norway (27 September 2017)
In Finland, a group of researchers has developed a method for measuring developments in Finnish media and communication policy as well as in the media industry.
The model was presented in a 2018 study, and in March 2020, a follow-up report was published describing the development of media and communication policy focusing on three areas: media economy and business operations, citizens' access to media services and media diversity. Read more about the Finnish research report here.