Friday 6 August 2021

Minority Broadcasters in Norway Hit By Government Proposal

Feminist radio station shocked by proposed changes for local radio
Oslo community radio broadcaster radiOrakel is shocked by the proposal to change the license terms for local radio and says that the changes further tighten strict and unfair framework conditions. This is stated in a consultation submission to the proposal from the Ministry of Culture with new rules for local radios which will have their licenses extended after 2021. radiOrakel is one of several local radio stations that still broadcast in the so-called switch-off areas, where the parliament passed a ban on commercial local radio on FM in order to protect the major national DAB-only commercial players Bauer and P4 group (NENT). Now community radio in Norway is on the road to become squeezed out of business.
radiOrakel is the worlds oldest feminist radio station, and has since 1982 produced experimental journalism, creative comedy and investigative radio plays; all with a queer angle. The music profile covers everything from niche punk voices to doom and hip hop! 

The government proposal contains a total advertising ban for local radio stations that broadcast on FM in the metro cities, in order to prevent them from competing with the major national broadcasters. Here radiOrakel reacts strongly:

- The government and the Ministry of Culture must take into account that local radio is already sitting with the knife to its throat. With this coercive policy, you have to compensate with fair and adequate media support schemes, increase the budget framework and make the subsidy scheme for digitization long-term and predictable, it says in the consultation submission from radiOrakel.

- We see that the major players have managed to get the authorities involved in real distortions of competition, by forcing the majority of niche radio onto a platform where they can not expect profitability for many years. We therefore believe that the income limit of NOK 135,000 a year must be removed and that the advertising ban for FM radio in the switch-off areas is relaxed.

Many niche radio stations, including radiOrakel, are already struggling to raise enough funding to operate properly on FM - Then it is not acceptable to be forced over to DAB without being compensated with better framework conditions for local radio, and an adequate operating subsidy scheme for digitization in particular, writes radiOrakel.

radioOrakel requires the following:
  • A platform-neutral media support that equates editor-controlled media, so that local radio can apply for press support on the same terms as newspapers and magazines.
  • Operating grants for digitization: distribution via DAB requires fresh funds and a lasting, predictable grant scheme for construction licensees and local niche radios.
  • FM licenses must be extended until 2032 (in the same way as for DAB).
  • It must be possible to adapt and adjust existing licenses to new geographical areas and new needs.
  • We demand that income restrictions and advertising bans for FM radio be removed.
Radio Latin-Amerika is another minority radio station in Oslo that also reacts strongly to the proposals: An advertising ban will be very intrusive towards us as a minority radio says Radio Latin-America in its consultation submission.

Norway is still the only country in the world which has closed its national FM-network and is planning to forbid also local FM radio. Neighbouring countries as Finland and Sweden, as well as the rest of the world (except Swtizerland) have no such plans on the agenda. Two thirds of the population in Norway is able to receive cross-border Danish, Finnish or Swedish FM radio.
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