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European media legislation in Norway

Why the EU directive regulating broadcasting and other media services applies in Norway

Norway is not an EU member, but still the EU Directive on audiovisual media services applies in Norway. Are you interested in European media regulation? Here is what you should know:

The Audiovisual Media Services Directive ensures EU wide coordination of national legislation on all audiovisual media, both traditional TV broadcasts and on-demand services. The Directive has rules to avoid double jurisdiction of absence of jurisdiction in the EU.

The Audiovisual Media Services Directive (AVMSD)

The current revised AVMS Directive entered into force in EU in December 2018. The period until September 2020 will be used for implementation into national legislation in EU Member States. The Directive prescribes new working principles and co-operation.

The revised AVMS Directive is not yet a part of the EEA Agreement but is now being scrutinized by the EEA EFTA States. A formal decision incorporating a directive in the EEA Agreement is taken by the EEA Joint Committee.

Furthermore, European regulation is a hot topic as a consequence of Brexit. Several broadcasters established in the United Kingdom are directed to viewers in other European countries including Norway. When both UK and Norway are part of the internal market, the provision of the Directive apply. Questions in relation to this is dealt with under the AVMS Directive. There are no bilateral agreements British and Norwegian authorities covering this industry.

The legal basis for the AVMS Directive in Norwegian legislation

Norway is one on the parties to the Agreement on the European Economic Area (EEA). Through the EEA Agreement Norway, Iceland, Lichtenstein and the EU is a part of a single market; the European Economic Area. The four freedoms apply.

The AVMS Directive is transposed into the EEA Agreement and then implemented into Norwegian legislation, mainly the Broadcasting Act.

The Norwegian Ministry of Culture takes part in the Contact Committee meetings established by the AVMS directive.  

The EEA and the EEA Agreement

The European Economic Area, the EEA, is the single market of all the 28 EU Member States and three of the four EFTA States, altogether 31 EEA countries. This is often referred to as the Internal Market. The EEA EFTA States are Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway. Switzerland is a member of EFTA but not a part of the EEA.

The EEA Agreement ensures that EU law in areas covered by the four freedom is applied in all EEA countries. The four freedoms are the free movement of goods, services, capital and persons. The EEA Agreement is dynamic and is continuously updated to incorporate new legislation.

The EFTA side of the EEA has bodies corresponding to the European Commission and the Court of Justice on the EU side, the EFTA Surveillance Authority (ESA) and the EFTA Court.

European cooperation in the field of Media

The Norwegian Media Authority is member of the European Regulators Group for Audiovisual Media Services (ERGA). The Authority is also a member of expert groups organized by the European Commission.

The NMA runs a Safer Internet Centre under the Connecting Europe Facility-programme (CEF).  Through the Better Internet for Kids-platform (BIK), which was launched in October 2015, Safer Internet Centres share tools, resources and good practices and provide services to their users.

State aid rules in Norway

The EEA Agreement has similar state aid rules as the EU treaties. The state aid rules apply to Norwegian media, for example the public service media. The EFTA Surveillance Authority ESA ensures that Norway respects the obligations when state aid is granted.   

Norwegian membership in other European organizations 

Norway is one of the 47 members of the Council of Europe. The Norwegian Ministry of Culture represents Norway in the Steering Committee on Media and Information Society. The CDMSI steers the work of the Council of Europe in the field of freedom of expression, media and internet governance. Norway is party to the European Convention on Transfrontier Television. This convention has not been revised since 2002.

Norway is a member of the European Audiovisual Observatory. The Observatory provides information on the audiovisual industry in 41 countries. 

The Norwegian Media Authority is a member of the European Platform of Regulatory Authorities (EPRA). 53 regulatory authorities representing 47 countries are members. EPRA holds two annual meetings where issues relating to the regulation of broadcasting and other audiovisual media are discussed.