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State Aid

PR(10)01: State aid: The Authority clears the new financing regime of NRK

3.2.2010

The Authority has today closed its investigation into the financing regime of the Norwegian public service broadcaster NRK. This was possible following recent changes in the Norwegian broadcasting legislation and formal commitments for further amendments made by the Norwegian authorities. The new system, including a new entrustment mechanism for NRK's activities of public service nature, will be fully in place in April 2010.

NRK (Norsk Rikskringkasting) is entrusted with the task of supplying public broadcasting services to the Norwegian society. It offers content via five different media platforms: television, radio, teletext, Internet and mobile telephony. The company is primarily financed by licence fee revenue collected from radio and television set owners in Norway. Following a careful examination, the Authority had qualified those payments as incompatible state aid benefiting NRK and consequently, requested Norway to modify certain features of NRK's financing system (PR(09)50). The Norwegian authorities agreed to the Authority's suggestions and assured their full implementation by April 2010.

 

As a result of the investigation, the new organisation of public service broadcasting in Norway includes for instance the following changes, as agreed between the Authority and the Norwegian authorities and recorded in today's decision:

  • By way of exception, certain pay services relating to the provision of programmes on the Internet can be part of the public service, if the payment does not exceed certain user-related costs, for instance copyright fees to third parties.
  • Any significant amendments of NRK's public service task will be subject to a new entrustment procedure, carried out prior to the inclusion of a new service. The assessment of each proposed new service will be based on verifiable national criteria in the form of an added public value test which will be developed by the Norwegian authorities. The final decision on whether to include a new service will take into account opinions of competent independent national authorities (such as the Media Authority) and other observations in a public consultation.
  • It has been clarified under which circumstances overcompensation can be retained by the public service broadcaster.

In addition, amendments of the relevant national legislation and practice have been undertaken by the Norwegian authorities with a view to clarifying the role and the financing regime of NRK.

The Authority's action in this case follows similar investigations of the European Commission in relation to the financing of public service broadcasters in Europe, most recently in The Netherlands and Spain.

 

For further information, please contact:

Per Andreas Bjørgan
Director
Competition and State Aid
tel. (+32)(0)2 286 18 36 

Agnieszka Montoya-Iwanczuk
Senior Officer
Competition and State Aid
tel. (+32)(0)2 286 18 59

 

Brussels, 3 February 2010




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