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State Aid

PR(09)50: The Authority asks Norway to modify the financing system of NRK

8.7.2009

The EFTA Surveillance Authority today requested that Norway amend the financing regime of the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation (NRK). This request is based on a finding that the current financing system, mainly in the form of licence fee funding, is not in line with the EEA state aid rules.

Norway has been asked to implement certain concrete measures proposed by the Authority by the end of 2009.

Following a complaint from a private player in the media sector, the Authority investigated the financing regime of NRK, the Norwegian public broadcaster. It emerged that the current system is not in line with the EEA state aid rules as set out in the Authority's Guidelines for the broadcasting sector. The Authority therefore recommends a series of measures which have been discussed with Norway and include in particular:

  • Clearer definition of NRK's public service mission, including a clarification of the nature of certain pay-services;
  • Establishment of an entrustment procedure prior to the launching of new services in which the market impact and the added public value of new services is assessed;
  • More effective supervision of the public service mission at the national level and controls against any overcompensation;
  • Separate accounting systems for public and commercial activities;
  • Better compliance with market principles in commercial activities, including transactions with commercial subsidiaries of NRK.

Upon final and formal acceptance of those proposals by the Norwegian authorities, the investigation can be closed. Norway will then have to make the amendments effective no later than 1 January 2010.

The case reflects action taken by the European Commission in relation to public service broadcasters in the EU, most recently in Germany, Ireland and Belgium.

NRK 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. NRK's primary source of financing is the licence fee which all owners of television and radio sets in Norway have to pay. In addition, NRK generates revenue from commercial activities, such as the sale of advertising space.

For further information, please contact:

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

 

Brussels, 8 July 2009


 




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