No political commercials on Norwegian TV before the election

On Januar 8, 2009 Trond Giske (left), Minister of Culture and Church Affairs, officially opened Frikanalen. Here photographed with the channel's editor Finn Andreassen. Photo: Government.no.

The Norwegian Frikanalen (Free Channel) has confirmed they have not received any applications from the Norwegian political parties to run TV-commercials before the upcoming election, writes newspaper Aftenposten.

In May, 2008 The Norwegian Government decided to pay Frikanalen 10 million NOK over a period of four years, in return the channel was supposed to work as a “freedom of speech channel” for all the political parties in Norway.

This was supposed to be the government’s solution for the judgement from Strasbourg, that gave “Pensjonistpartiet” the right to broadcast political TV-commercial, which had before this ruling been illegal in Norway. “This shows the parties are not eager to use TV as a tool,” says State Secretary at the Ministry of Culture and Church Affairs, Wegard Harsvik to NRK.

“The Government’s handling of this case is embarrassing. We knew that this solution would not work,” says Olemic Thommessen (Conservative Party).

“The parties still have time to apply for broadcasting time,” says editor at Frikanelen, Finn H. Andreassen to NTB. The parties can request air time until the week prior to the election, explains Andreassen. The election in Norway will take place September 14.

About Frikanalen

Frikanalen is owned by more than 60 different non-profit organizations in Norway, and is an “open channel”, which means that everyone – organization or individuals – has access to air their programs on the channel. The license given by the Department of Culture permits the editor of the channel to delegate the editorial responsibility to individuals, who has to sign a contract about legal and economic liability.

Frikanalen is organized as an association, where each member organization has one vote. The air time is divided into ten categories (ex. Culture, Sport, Youth, Religion etc.) and is organized with equal transmission time for each category. The channel is financed by support from the Department of Culture and membership fee.

The channel started broadcasting daily on October 15, 2008. Until the end of 2010 Frikanalen has limited air time (from 12.00 to 17.30), but at the end of 2010, when the digitalization in Norway is completed, Frikanalen has a 24/7 operation.

Source: Frikanalen / Aftenposten / NTB / NRK

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