This commercial channel is as previously stated owned partly by Schibsted and A-Pressen with the Danish company Egmont as a third major owner. The channel has had a huge success during the past ten years, and has today bypassed NRK as the biggest channel with regards to ratings. However, there have been several controversial programmes lately, landing the channel with the critique that it is presenting an edited version of the situation to get the ratings up. This has particularly been directed at the documentary/debate programme Rikets tilstand (State of the Nation).
Two years ago it showed a hidden camera reportage made by a Somali woman named Kadra, where she was seen talking to four Imams about female circumcision. They were all seemingly positive to this, something which caused an uproar and a strong critique of the Somali community in the capital. A few weeks ago the transcript of the conversation was published in Aftenposten, showing that the men had in fact been very hesitant about the subject; two of the four disapproved completely, and only one would submit his daughters to this treatment (on the other hand they did tell Kadra to obey her family if they demanded she undergo this procedure).
When asked about this, the presenter Gerhard Helskog replied that the situation was clear: the Imams had betrayed Kadra, and TV2 had done its job by exposing a genuine problem in the Somali community. The issue of censorship was also raised a few weeks ago, when the editor of TV2, Kire Valebrokk, cancelled a re-run of the popular satirical debate programme Torsdagsklubben. In the programme broadcast live on the 24th October, the comedian Otto Jespersen criticised the prime minister by commenting on the low ratings of his party, and on what he deemed to be excessive drug use.
The show caused quite a stir, and the PM stated that he disapproved of such ‘humour’. Other members of his party also criticised Jespersen, and when the latter received a death threat the week later, the tabloids reported Valebrokk as having said that this was the fault of the PM. Still, as this publicity is definitely not doing the channel any harm, one might wonder if this is a deliberate attempt to increase the market share of TV2. Other owners Although the market share of the three major groups is quite substantial, there are still a number of smaller groups and independent media left.
These are to a certain extent owned by members of the local community, or, as in the case of MGS (Mediegruppen Sunnmire), by the journalists and the editors themselves. This particular group owns three local media: a television station, a radio station and an Internet portal. 27 Dagbladet is the second biggest tabloid in Norway, and stays independent, although it does have strong ties to Orkla. One of the major reasons for this is the fact that Jens P. Heyerdahl, the director of Orkla, was also at a time the Chairman of the Board in Dagbladet, and his wife, Mette Heyerdahl, was the major shareholder.
These ties manifested themselves when, during the late 1980s – early 1990s, the paper tried to gain a share of the regional market. It engaged in a prize war in the town of Kristiansund against Schibsted, which held the number one newspaper at the time, Tidens Krav. However, Schibsted proved to be too powerful, and when Dagbladet pulled out it sold all its shares in regional papers to Orkla for a very reasonable prize.
Other important newspapers include Klassekampen, traditionally a communist paper, but slightly liberalised today, and Virt Land, a Christian paper. Virt Land also owns several local media, particularly on the West and South cost, where Puritanism has historically made a strong impact. Practice and legislation Under the Norwegian penal code it is the editor and not the owner who is responsible for the content and views of a newspaper. There has also been talk of making the ‘Statement of the Editor’s duties and rights’ a law,29 but this has been met with some opposition in Parliament.
This statement was created by the Union of Norwegian newspapers (NAL) and the Editors’ Trade union (NRF), in 1953, and stipulates how the editor should run the paper without interference from the owner, and how he/she should always have the best interest of the press and the freedom of speech in mind. 30Although this statement is not a law, it is respected by the different media. However, it is not only the editorial freedom which is important, the content also has to be regulated to a certain extent.
To this end, the ‘Be Careful’ statement by the Norwegian Press Union works as a pre-emptive, and the Press Standards Board (PFU) as a post-emptive means of control. The ‘Be Careful’ statement was first written in 1936, and stipulates the ethical norms for journalists with regards to their role, integrity and behaviour. 31 The PFU can react on complaints made by members of the public or by the press itself, if it is felt that a television programme or an article has failed to respect the ‘Be Careful’ rules.