The official country name in conventional long form is the Kingdom of Norway. Norge is the local short form. The capital of Norway is Oslo. Norway is situated far to the north in the western corner of Europe bordering the North Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean. Norway shares borders with Sweden, Finland and Russia. The Kingdom of Norway, in addition to the mainland, includes the Svalbard archipelago and Jan Mayen. Norway also has territories in the Antarctic region. These are Bouvet Island and Peter I Island. The size of Norway is slightly larger that New Mexico. The geographical conditions do not favor internal communication in Norway. The terrain is two-thirds mountains and there are nearly 50,000 islands off its coastline. High mountains, glaciers with high plateaus deep fjords, and arctic tundra in the north make communication difficult (www.odci.gov.)
Norways natural resources include petroleum, copper, natural gas, pyrites, nickel, iron ore, zinc, lead, fish, timber, and hydropower. Current environmental issues include: water pollution; acid rain damaging forests and adversely affecting lakes, threatening fish stocks; air pollution from vehicle emissions (www.odci.gov.)
Norway has a population of 4,438,537 with a growth rate of .4% recorded in July 1999 (www.ssb.no.) The life expectancy at birth of the total population is 78.36 years. This statistic is broken down by gender and the life expectancy at birth for females is 81.35 years and 75.55 years for male, est. in 1999. The estimated total fertility rate in 1999 is 1.77 children born per woman. The infant mortality rate is 4.96 deaths per 1,000 live births (1999 est.) (www.adin.dep.no.) Ethnic groups include: Germanic (Nordic, Alpine, Baltic), Lapps (Sami) (www.odci.gov.) The major religions are Evangelical Lutheran 87.8% (state church), other Protestant and Roman Catholic 3.8%, none 3.2%, unknown 5.2% (1980) (Ostbye, 1992.) The official language is Norwegian and there are small Lapp and Finnish-speaking minorities. Literacy rates are defined in the population of age 15 and over that can read and write. The total population is 99% literate (www.ssb.no.)
Norway is one of the richest countries in the world calculated by GNP per capita or purchasing parity which is $24,700 (www.odci.gov.)Norway thrives on welfare capitalism. The economy consists of a combination of free market activity and government intervention. The government controls key areas, such as the petroleum sector (through large-scale state enterprises), and extensively subsidizes agriculture, fishing, and areas with sparse resources. Norway maintains an extensive welfare system that helps increase public sector expenditures to more than 50% of GDP and results in one of the highest average tax levels in the world. The unemployment rate in the year-end of 1997 was 2.6%. The inflation rate was low at 2.3% is 1998 (www.ssb.no.)
Norway is a major shipping nation, with a high dependence on international trade and exporter of raw materials and semi-processed goods. The country is richly endowed with natural resources and is highly dependent on its oil production and international oil prices. Only Saudi Arabia exports more oil than Norway. Oslo opted to stay out of the EU during a referendum in November 1994. Economic growth in 1999 should drop to about 1%. Despite their high per capita income and generous welfare benefits, Norwegians worry about that time in the 21st century when the oil and gas run out (www.odin.dep.no.)
Norway is a constitutional monarchy which means that the constitution decrees that the country shall be ruled by a monarch. The king and his family have no real political power but are an important symbol and mean a great deal to the people. Harald V came to the throne after the death of his father Olav V in 1991. King Harald is married to Queen Sonja and they have two children, Crown Prince Haakon and Princess Martha Louise. The Storting is Norway's national assembly and consists of 165 representatives from 19 counties. General elections are held every 4 years. The Storting passes laws and decides how the national income should be spent. The Prime Minister is the head of the government and has 18 ministers to assist in the running of the country. Although the Storting is the most powerful body in the country, each of the 19 counties and the 435 municipalities has its own local government which is responsible for the building and running of schools, hospitals, kindergartens, and roads (www.odin.dep.no.).
Every Norwegian has the right to vote from the age of 18. Norway was one of the first countries in the world to allow women to vote, which occurred in 1913. Since this period, Norway has come a long way in ensuring equal rights for men and women (www.odin.dep.no).
During the union with Denmark from 1400 to 1815, Oslo became the cultural, political, and commercial center. Nationalist opposition against the union with Sweden (1815-1905) got most of its strength from the periphery (Ostergaard, 1992.) One of the lasting outcomes of the protest is two official languages: bokmal (literary Norwegian) based on the dialect of the upper class in Oslo and influenced by the Danish and nynorsk (new Norwegian) which is based on countryside dialects from the western parts of Norway (Ostybe, 1993.) Ninety-five percent of the population speaks Norwegian as their native language. Everyone who speaks Norwegian, whether it is a local dialect or one of the two standard official languages, can be understood by other Norwegians since there are no real language barriers. The two languages have equal status; therefore, they are both used in public administration, in schools, churches, and on radio and television. In addition, books, magazines, and newspapers are published in both languages (www.odin.dep.no.)
The media landscape in Norway has been transformed over the past two decades. Norwegians still top the list of the worlds most avid newspaper readers. The time spent on the electronic media is increasing year by year. Norway was a latecomer in the field of television, which was introduced officially in 1960 (Ostergaard, 1992) The state retained a monopoly of both radio and television until the early 1980s. The Norwegian parliament then opened the field to private enterprise, though both radio and television stations had to be licensed by the authorities. This breaking down of the state monopoly opened up for a large number of both local and nationwide radio and television companies that started to compete with the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation (NRK).
At the same time the compact disc was introduced to the market, personal computers and the Internet entered the market (Ostybe, 1993.) This rapid development in the field of electronics meant tougher competition for the traditional printed media. They already faced competition from radio and television in the fields of both news and entertainment. The media landscape underwent a radical change, but the new media did not replace the old, they supplemented them.
There has been governmental regulation of newspapers in Norway for quite some time. Norwegian papers are linked to political parties and some are even owned by a party as a result of monopolization (Ostergaard, 1992.) During the German occupation in Norway from 1940-1945, more than 60% of the newspapers were stopped and only five of the 44 Labor Party papers continued during the war (Ostybe, 1993.) All Labor Party papers re-established after the war but never regained their strength. Organizations in the paper industry turned to government for subsidies. There was no evidence of state influence over the content of the newspapers which is why the subsidy system has widened the range of newspapers in Norway (Ostybe, 1993.)
The national organization of the Labor Party controlled the leading Labor newspaper, Abeiderblader. There was strong technical, economical, editorial cooperation between Labor Papers and they were seen as a newspaper chain. All papers remained independent until 1990 when all the Labor papers merged into one company (Ostergaard, 1992.) Currently, there are one or two newspapers in each town, except for larger cities. The largest newspaper is the Oslo-bases tabloid, Verdens Gang, which is read by 1,384,000 people (www.odin.dep.no.)
The other nation-wide popular newspaper is the Dagbladet. These two tabloids contain news background, comments, and debate on both political and cultural affairs. There is no value-added tax or VAT, on newspapers in Norway (www.ssb.no.) Most of the large newspapers are Conservative or Liberal (www.odin.dep.no.) Newspapers and television are the most widely used media in Norway.
Norwegians had their first real taste of television through the spillover effect of Swedish TV and Danish TV. There are two Norwegian channels that cover the entire country. One is 30 year-old NRK (Norwegian Broadcasting Channel) which is a network of TV, radio, news, sports, culture, drama, and entertainment (www.odci.gov.) The NRK used to be state-owned but in 1988 it was transformed into a public trust. This may have given the institution more independence but regardless, important decisions about the economy and organizational structure were taken by the Parliament. NRK was financed by television license fees and special tax on radio and TV equipment which was also set by Parliament (Ostybe, 1993.) NRK is not a local channel; therefore, anyone who has a television set must pay the NRK license. The laws in Norway make it impossible for TV stations to interrupt shows with commercials (Ostybe, 1993.) Advertising in the media was localized in 1991 but contained restrictions (www.odin.dep.no) Ads promoting alcohol, tobacco are prohibited and the Act also does not permit advertisements directed at children. The age group of 67 and older is by far the largest age group that watches TV. The group of 9-15 year-olds watches half as much TV as the elderly (www.odin.de.no) Recently, NRK became a joint stock company and the state has become the sole owner. The Board is disappointed by the government but is not responsible for the editorial contents.These contents are the responsibility of the Director General (www.odin.dep.no.)
Norways second channel, TV2 opened five years ago and is owned by three media corporations: Schibstel, Egmont, and A-pressen (Ostergaard, 1992.) The purpose of TV2 was to contribute to the preservation of Norwegian language, culture, and identity. TV2 was required to have at least one newscast per day and a given percentage of the programs were produced in Norway. TV2 is very popular today and is a major competitor to NRK (www.odin.dep.no.)
The most important position radio ever had in Norway was during WWII when it was used as to transmit news from the British Isles (Ostybe, 1993) The NRK used to be a state monopoly and was financed by public license fees. Only one channel existed until 1981 when a second was introduced followed by the third channel in 1993. The topography of Norway makes it difficult in distributing main programming to the entire population, which is the goal of the NRK. The transmitter system enables the NRK to divide the country into 17 regional units to manage the transmission of their programs (Ostergaard, 1992.) The Sami population has their own radio programs.
The government has posed regulations on the industry for decades. In 1987 the Broadcasting Act made local radio permanent and accepted advertising in local radio (Weymouth ; Lamizet, 1996) The drawback was that a tax was introduced on the revenues from broadcasting advertisements. This income would be used to subsidize local radio stations in areas where economic foundations were too weak to support a station. The Act treated local TV in the same way that local radio was treated, with the exception of the commercials (Ostybe, 1993.)
In 1993, the first private radio company, P4, was established. The Mass Media Authority licenses this station and all private radio stations. Mainstream music and news dominate programming at P4. This station targets young adults and covers 93% of the population (Weymouth ; Lamizet, 1996.) After advertising was allowed in the media in 1991, P4 rapidly gained a substantial share of radio advertising.
The radio today is not as popular as before. There are approximately 3.3 million radios in Norway. This includes zero short-wave radio stations, 350 radio stations that are private and 143 radio stations owned by the Government. In 1991, 87% of Norwegians had access to the radio. In 1996, 90% of the population had access. The average person listens to the radio for 161 minutes per day which is regarded as moderate radio listening compared to other countries. As with television viewing, young people listen less than older generation (www.odci.gov.)
By the end of 1996, another reform reduced the number of licensed stations to 308, which had to share 220 transmitter systems. In turn, stations had to split airtime. Approximately 100 stations were run by religious organizations, five by political parties, five by schools and the rest by other organizations (www.odin.dep.no.)
The total circulation of weekly magazines is approximately 2.7 million (www.ssb.no) Weekly magazines must pay a value-added tax. Orkle is the co-owner along with Egmont of Denmark, of a group of 21 magazines that have a total circulation of 1.3 million (www.odci.gov.) The Danish publishing house, Aller, has a Norwegian subsidiary. This subsidiary owns nine magazines, including the largest of them all, Serg og Hor (Look and Listen.) (www.ssb.no.)This publication specializes in news about celebrities and entertainment (Ostergaard, 1992.) One out of fine Norwegians read a weekly magazine on an average day. The reading has not changed a great deal over the last few years (www.ssb.no.)
Norway is fourth place on the list of Internet connection per capita. Fifteen percent of the population uses it weekly. Nearly seven percent use the Internet daily (www.ssb.no.)
In the past years, Internet has spread and more people are learning English as their first foreign language.
National media politics have always been important in Norway. During most of the 1980s, the Parliament and the Government played an important role in the formation if the Norwegian Mass Media System. Although advancements in the system have been made such as TV2 and legalizing advertising, there is still evidence of a strong constitutional monarchy. In 1980, there was only one broadcasting institution, NRK, who owned one radio channel and one television channel. Few European countries had so few radio and TV channels. Many changes occurred in 1980 which have brought Norway in line with the rest of Europe.
There have been changes in the local and regional levels. Local radio stations and local TV have been a success. At the regional level, newspapers have fared well. Nationally, the NRK has increased the number of channels from one to three and the two national tabloids, the VG and Dagbladet, have increased circulation. Currently, NRK faces competition from local television and radio stations.
The media structure is less rigid than before. It is apparent at the international level that Norway is still a receiving country. This is in part due to government restrictions. Norway is influenced by other cultures such as the United States and the United Kingdom. Structural changes have been very easy to see yet all forms of media, will continue to change.
Before I started any research on Norway, I did not know an extensive amount of information on the country.Norway is not a country that one hears too much about in school. I knew where it was located and the type of government but I did not know any specifics about the media system. I was in Europe last semester and one of my closest friends was from Denmark.All Nordic countries have similar rules and laws and I was able to learn more about these countries from my friend.
I think that I have come away from my research and this paper with a great understanding of how the country runs and the political effects on the media. I have found the most popular forms of media in Norway such as newspapers, television, and radio to still have some regulation by the government. I also was able to draw some comparisons with Norway and the United States on issues such as subsidies, advertising and regulation.
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