Promoting cultural diversity through public service media support (Denmark)
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In Denmark, media policy is considered as an integral part of cultural policy. A media policy agreement between the government and the Parliament, usually spanning four years, forms the legislative basis in the area of radio, television, printed and internet based media.
A cornerstone of the Danish media policy is the notion of public service. Therefore, public service media helps to ensure pluralism through multiple platforms, both at the national and regional levels, and to address a balanced range of programmes and services for all groups in society.
Aimed at strengthening the Danish democracy, media policy lays the foundation for a diverse media landscape fostering access to a diversity of cultural expressions. In this regard, a Public Service Pool was established to meet the needs of institutions not covered by license fees, offering them the opportunity to apply for programs and productions’ funding, as long as public service objectives (originality, significance and quality) are met.
Further, the challenges brought by digital technologies have been addressed. The transformations through which cultural content is created, produced, distributed and consumed in the digital age implies written internet-based news media to be granted the same level of support than traditional media. With the revised Media Support Act, entered into force in 2014, internet media is now considered eligible for secured funding arrangements. Based on selected criteria, media support is granted for the production of editorial content and for the establishment of new media. Protection from arbitrary interference is also guaranteed by an independent board.
The establishment of a comprehensive legislative base to support media freedom and diversity and to address the need of all groups in society illustrates Denmark’s commitment to implement Goal 1 of the Convention supporting sustainable systems of governance for culture as well as SDG 16 by ensuring public access to information and the protection of fundamental freedoms (Target 16.7).
As stated in the Danish QPR of 2012, media policy is regarded as an integral part of Danish cultural policy due to the societal significance of the mass media for the development of Danish culture and political debate. A media policy agreement (“mediepolitisk aftale”) between the government and one or more parties in the Parliament, usually spanning four years, form the basis for legislation in the area of radio, television and public service.Grants for media includes for example:
- printed and internet based news media (see elaboration of the new Media Support Act in sec. 1.4.1),
- non-commercial local radio and television (i.e. to civil society), including support for training/education based on statutory objective criteria. The schemes are administered by an independent board, the Radio and Television Board.
- distribution of periodic magazines and journals, primarily union journals through the Magazine Fund (“Bladpuljen”), which was established in 2004 with the purpose of promoting democratic debate as well as cultural and societal enlightenment.
A cornerstone of the media policy is the notion of public service, which seeks to address the need for a versatile and balanced range of programmes and services for all parts of the population. Therefore, public service activity in Denmark seeks to ensure that the entire Danish population has access to a wide range of programmes and services via media channels such as television, radio, and the internet. The Danish public service institutions include DR, TV2 Danmark, TV2 Regions and Radio 24syv, which all help to ensure pluralism in both radio and television, national and regional, to the entire population on multiple platforms. Further, the “Public Service Pool” (“Public Service Puljen”) provides the opportunity for other instituions not covered by license fees to apply for funding for programs and productions, which meet the requirements of the public service objectives (originality, significance and quality).
Example: Media Support Act granting support to internet based news media
The revised Media Support Act entered into force on 1 January 2014. Media support is the collective term for the Ministry of Culture subsidies for printed news media and the written internet-based news media. The key objective of media support is to promote a comprehensive and diverse range of news of social and cultural nature aimed at strengthening the Danish democracy and the democratic debate. Based on objective criteria, media support is granted for the production of editorial content for a wide range of print media. With the new Act, internet media is also considered eligible for media support. Additionally, media support can be granted in order to establish new media. To this end, the overall Danish media support scheme serves to promote and lay the foundation for a diverse media landscape. The scheme is administered by an independent board. [...]
DR (Danish Broadcasting Corporation) is the biggest provider of public service in the Danish media market, and is organised as an independent public institution financed through license fees. In the cultural field, DR has to place a special emphasis on its role as initiator and communicator of Danish art and culture and the Danish cultural heritage; enrich the cultural life in Denmark with original contents; place a special emphasis on the Danish language and actively contribute to preserving and developing the Danish language so the listeners, viewers and users experience accurate and intelligible Danish in DR’s activities. Further, DR has an obligation to offer a broad coverage of the Danish society as well as of the societies of Greenland and the Faroe Islands, and to reflect the diversity of culture, philosophies of life and living conditions in the different parts of Denmark. On TV, cultural contents is a constituent element in a number of regular programs on the main channel DR1, for instance in the News and in the daily journalistic current events program “Aftenshowet”. The downright culture programs are primarily broadcasted on DR’s specialized channels, DR2 and DRK, which encompasses different approaches to culture and both provide insight and create debate about the arts and music. While DR3, a specialized channel for younger audiences, has a strong profile on music. Examples of main TV initiatives in 2015 includes the second season of the successful drama series “Arvingerne” (The Legacy” and the competition “Danmarks nye julesang” (‘Denmark’s new Christmas Carol’), where amateur and professional songwriters composed approximately 500 new Christmas songs. On the radio, DR’s portfolio of FM and digital radio channels ensure a wide communication of culture and music contents within all genres.
[...] In the musical field, DR is also involved in the creation and promotion of music through its ensembles. These ensembles consist of the orchestras: DR Symfoniorkesteret, DR Big Bandet, and the choirs: DR Koncertkoret, DR VokalEnsemblet and DR Pigekoret. Besides, DR Musikariet offers a number of activities in the musical field that are especially directed at children and young people. In 2015, more than 55.000 children participated in approximately 80 activities, either in the DR Concert Hall or in schools and venues around the country.