Political ads on television rejected in Norway

by Andy Sennitt

Stortinget - the parliament - has with a strong majority vote (61-34) upheld the ban on political ads on television in Norway. Politicians fear that polical ads on television will not benefit parties with limited financial resources. In order to give heed to the European human rights court decision 2008 to open the airwaves for all political parties, the Minister of Culture Trond Giske (Social dem.) instead has found a constructive compromise. The proposal also was supported by one opposition party (Christian Democrats).

The mission to increase coverage of small parties before upcoming elections was added to the remit for the public service broadcaster NRK. Also an agreement between the government and Frikanalen - the non-commercial open channel on the national digital terrestial network - will guarantee all parties broadcast space especially three weeks before an election. The channel will also be open for regional broadcasts for local parties.

The agreement also provides for government support to Frikanalen - a civil society NGO. Frikanalen will receive 10 million Norwegian kronor (1.12 million euro) for operations and investments for the period 2009-2012.