Denmark/ 4.2 Specific policy issues and recent debates  

4.2.6 Media pluralism and content diversity

The most important Danish radio and TV stations are:

  • Danmarks Radio (DR), which broadcasts the TV channels DR and DR 2, along with DR Update, DR K (focuses on culture, history, music and film), DR Ramasjang (for children) and DR HD (high definition and focus on young people). DR transmits the FM radio channels P1, P3 and P4, as well as regional channels and channels on digital platforms. On 1 November 2009 Denmark shifted to digital antenna TV in order to enhance picture quality, sound, TV format, and to offer better services such as improved subtitles and a sight interpreter system.
  • TV 2/Danmark A/S, which broadcasts the TV channels TV 2, and (through satellite) TV2 News, TV 2 Zulu, TV 2 Charlie, TV 2 Film and TV 2 Sport. TV 2 also operates 8 regional channels, which broadcast primarily from "windows" within TV 2 main channel. The eight regional channels are: TV 2 / Lorry, TV 2 SYD A/S, TV 2 / Nord, TV2 / Bornholm, TV2 / Øst, TV2 / Østjylland, TV2 / Midt-Vest and TV2 / Fyn.
  • TV 2 / Danmark's main channel, TV 2, was established in 1986 as a new public service TV station that was meant to provide an alternative to DR. In 2004 it became a joint-stock company owned entirely by the Danish state. These changes meant that TV 2 had to gather all its income from advertising and income from its niche channels. As this did not prove financially viable, the channel is from January 2012, a subscription channel. This decision is in line with requirements made by EU Commission – which was accepted in spring 2011.
  • In 2011, DR's fourth FM radio channel was closed down to provide more competition to the remaining DR channels. The new channel is called Radio 24/syv.
  • The fifth FM radio channel is driven by Nova Radio, which covers about 80% of Denmark and the sixth FM Radio Channel is Radio 100FM which covers about 38% of Denmark.
  • SBS TV transmits on a range of frequencies that used to be reserved for local TV.
  • In Denmark, there are approximately 286 local TV stations and approximately 326 local radio stations.
  • Three Danish radio stations are broadcast via satellite, and one via short wave.
  • In Denmark, there are approximately 20 satellite and cable TV stations

After years of economic turbulence, particularly caused by the building of a new radio, television and a concert house, Danmarks Radio (DR) revealed a new strategy for 2011-2014. The strategy is called "Sharper DR" and is intended to place focus on content again – after years of budget deficits related to the cost of the new DR building and the concert house. According to the new strategy, DR will be known for quality content of relevance and importance. In short, the emphasis is now on a more "classical" notion of public service content. In addition, DR has identified five main areas of interest:

  • Focus on youth target group;
  • More material from the whole of Denmark;
  • Not more – but better news;
  • Culture with relevance to more people; and
  • Journalism with more impact.

The Media Agreement 2011-2014 and the Media Support Project

The Media Agreement, for 2011-2014, focuses on quality and diversity (see chapter 4.2.1 for insights into how the agreement affects arts policy). There are no plans to extend DR's supply of TV and radio channels, but rather to increase the quality of available channels. Included in these objectives is more focus on Danish art and culture and to play more Danish music on the radio channels.

TV2 was erected as a direct competition to DR's monopoly on public service TV and, according to the Media agreement, DR's FM radio channel P2 will be closed down in early 2011 and a new channel erected in direct competition to the remaining three FM radio stations within the realm of DR. This closure was implemented in 2011 and a new one established, called Radio 24/syv. Approximately 100 million DKK of public license fees will be allocated to stations annually.

Other agendas in the new Media Agreement include:

  • continuation and expansion of the public service pool;
  • strengthening Danish film;
  • strengthening the private production milieu;
  • development of the radio market;
  • more freedom of choice for Danish TV audiences;
  • adoption of product placement and other issues that the EU AVMS Directive introduced;
  • continuation of the processes of privatising TV2; and
  • strengthening of local radio and TV.

For more detailed account, see "Mediepolitisk aftale 2011-2014", URL: http://kulturministeriet.dk/da/Kulturpolitik/Medier/Medieaftalen/

The overall aim of the agreement is to ensure the license finances Denmark's Radio (DR) (see chapter 4.2.6) while providing more room for commercial players in the Danish media landscape.

At that time the opposition in the Danish parliament, consisting of the Danish Social Democrats, Socialist People's Party, the Danish Social-Liberal Party and the Red-Green Alliance could not vote for the proposal because it was believed that privatisation of the media would reduce the DR's ability to meet public service obligations on a high quality level. The opposition did not believe that there would be more quality, diversity and critical media publicity by simply privatising and increasing competition in the public service by a redistribution of the license by, among other things, inviting tenders for a private FM channel. Moreover, the opposition influenced the former Minister of Culture to open up support for web media. The discussion inspired the former Minister of Culture, Per Stig Møller, to set up a committee to prepare a foundation for the government's position on public media support.

The committee was supposed to develop potential models for future media support in Denmark and was assigned to complete its work no later than 1 October 2011. The result is a report called Democracy Support – Tomorrow's Public Media Support. The key parameters in the report are technology, consumer market developments and increased internationalisation – pointing specifically to:

  • How young media users increasingly make use of IP-based media, while older users are more likely to use print media (in addition to radio and television)
  • How search engines and social media are the most used platforms amongst Danish users on the Internet
  • How there still needs to be established profitable payment models for news via IP media
  • How circulation and readership is declining for most print media
  • How the local advertising market is under extreme pressure from foreign players

The report furthermore addresses the consequences of maintaining a status quo where certain IP based media and journals are not currently eligible for subsidisation. This is despite the fact that in many cases these platforms play a crucial role in an enlightened democracy. These kinds of considerations correspond with the overall aims of the report, which are to be seen in the title as well, i.e. looking primarily upon the democratic role of media. This is further emphasised in the concrete purpose of the report:

  • to promote social and cultural information;
  • to strengthen the democratic debate in society; and
  • to ensure versatility and diversity in Danish media.

Indeed, powerful media are seen as essential in supporting democratic values and society through independent production and dissemination of news, as well as information that encourages information seeking and participation in public debates. It is therefore the Committee's conclusion that media support should primarily been seen as support to democracy. Finally, the committee puts forward three potential models to achieve these objectives:

  • A platform-specific model (adaptation of the current platform specific media support, including IP media – but with separate support schemes);
  • Partly platform-neutral model (radio and television and the ideal magazines continue to receive support from platform specific schemes, while print medial and IP based media are supported by a platform-neutral scheme); and
  • Platform-neutral model (a main support scheme divided onto two separate schemes of production, one for commercial media and non for non-commercial media).

Chapter published: 10-04-2012


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