Norway Essay, Research Paper

The official country name in conventional long form is the Kingdom of Norway.

Norge is the local short form. The capital of Norway is Oslo. Norway is situated

far to the north in the western corner of Europe bordering the North Sea and the

North Atlantic Ocean. Norway shares borders with Sweden, Finland and Russia. The

Kingdom of Norway, in addition to the mainland, includes the Svalbard

archipelago and Jan Mayen. Norway also has territories in the Antarctic region.

These are Bouvet Island and Peter I Island. The size of Norway is slightly

larger that New Mexico. The geographical conditions do not favor internal

communication in Norway. The terrain is two-thirds mountains and there are

nearly 50,000 islands off its coastline. High mountains, glaciers with high

plateaus deep fjords, and arctic tundra in the north make communication

difficult ( Norway?s natural resources include petroleum,

copper, natural gas, pyrites, nickel, iron ore, zinc, lead, fish, timber, and

hydropower. Current environmental issues include: water pollution; acid rain

damaging forests and adversely affecting lakes, threatening fish stocks; air

pollution from vehicle emissions ( People Norway has a population

of 4,438,537 with a growth rate of .4% recorded in July 1999 ( The

life expectancy at birth of the total population is 78.36 years. This statistic

is broken down by gender and the life expectancy at birth for females is 81.35

years and 75.55 years for male, est. in 1999. The estimated total fertility rate

in 1999 is 1.77 children born per woman. The infant mortality rate is 4.96

deaths per 1,000 live births (1999 est.) ( Ethnic groups

include: Germanic (Nordic, Alpine, Baltic), Lapps (Sami) ( The

major religions are Evangelical Lutheran 87.8% (state church), other Protestant

and Roman Catholic 3.8%, none 3.2%, unknown 5.2% (1980) (Ostbye, 1992.) The

official language is Norwegian and there are small Lapp and Finnish-speaking

minorities. Literacy rates are defined in the population of age 15 and over that

can read and write. The total population is 99% literate ( Economy

Norway is one of the richest countries in the world calculated by GNP per capita

or purchasing parity which is $24,700 ( Norway thrives on welfare

capitalism. The economy consists of a combination of free market activity and

government intervention. The government controls key areas, such as the

petroleum sector (through large-scale state enterprises), and extensively

subsidizes agriculture, fishing, and areas with sparse resources. Norway

maintains an extensive welfare system that helps increase public sector

expenditures to more than 50% of GDP and results in one of the highest average

tax levels in the world. The unemployment rate in the year-end of 1997 was 2.6%.

The inflation rate was low at 2.3% is 1998 ( Norway is a major

shipping nation, with a high dependence on international trade and exporter of

raw materials and semi-processed goods. The country is richly endowed with

natural resources and is highly dependent on its oil production and

international oil prices. Only Saudi Arabia exports more oil than Norway. Oslo

opted to stay out of the EU during a referendum in November 1994. Economic

growth in 1999 should drop to about 1%. Despite their high per capita income and

generous welfare benefits, Norwegians worry about that time in the 21st century

when the oil and gas run out ( Government Norway is a

constitutional monarchy which means that the constitution decrees that the

country shall be ruled by a monarch. The king and his family have no real

political power but are an important symbol and mean a great deal to the people.

Harald V came to the throne after the death of his father Olav V in 1991. King

Harald is married to Queen Sonja and they have two children, Crown Prince Haakon

and Princess Martha Louise. The Storting is Norway’s national assembly and

consists of 165 representatives from 19 counties. General elections are held

every 4 years. The Storting passes laws and decides how the national income

should be spent. The Prime Minister is the head of the government and has 18

ministers to assist in the running of the country. Although the Storting is the

most powerful body in the country, each of the 19 counties and the 435

municipalities has its own local government which is responsible for the

building and running of schools, hospitals, kindergartens, and roads (

Every Norwegian has the right to vote from the age of 18. Norway was one of the

first countries in the world to allow women to vote, which occurred in 1913.

Since this period, Norway has come a long way in ensuring equal rights for men

and women ( Language During the union with Denmark from 1400 to

1815, Oslo became the cultural, political, and commercial center. Nationalist

opposition against the union with Sweden (1815-1905) got most of its strength

from the periphery (Ostergaard, 1992.) One of the lasting outcomes of the

protest is two official languages: bokmal (literary Norwegian) based on the

dialect of the upper class in Oslo and influenced by the Danish and nynorsk (new

Norwegian) which is based on countryside dialects from the western parts of

Norway (Ostybe, 1993.) Ninety-five percent of the population speaks Norwegian as

their native language. Everyone who speaks Norwegian, whether it is a local

dialect or one of the two standard official languages, can be understood by

other Norwegians since there are no real language barriers. The two languages

have equal status; therefore, they are both used in public administration, in

schools, churches, and on radio and television. In addition, books, magazines,

and newspapers are published in both languages ( Media System

Overview The media landscape in Norway has been transformed over the past two

decades. Norwegians still top the list of the world?s most avid newspaper

readers. The time spent on the electronic media is increasing year by year.

Norway was a latecomer in the field of television, which was introduced

officially in 1960 (Ostergaard, 1992) The state retained a monopoly of both

radio and television until the early 1980s. The Norwegian parliament then opened

the field to private enterprise, though both radio and television stations had

to be licensed by the authorities. This breaking down of the state monopoly

opened up for a large number of both local and nationwide radio and television

companies that started to compete with the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation (NRK).

At the same time the compact disc was introduced to the market, personal

computers and the Internet entered the market (Ostybe, 1993.) This rapid

development in the field of electronics meant tougher competition for the

traditional printed media. They already faced competition from radio and

television in the fields of both news and entertainment. The media landscape

underwent a radical change, but the new media did not replace the old, they

supplemented them. Newspapers There has been governmental regulation of

newspapers in Norway for quite some time. Norwegian papers are linked to

political parties and some are even owned by a party as a result of

monopolization (Ostergaard, 1992.) During the German occupation in Norway from

1940-1945, more than 60% of the newspapers were stopped and only five of the 44

Labor Party papers continued during the war (Ostybe, 1993.) All Labor Party

papers re-established after the war but never regained their strength.

Organizations in the paper industry turned to government for subsidies. There

was no evidence of state influence over the content of the newspapers which is

why the subsidy system has widened the range of newspapers in Norway (Ostybe,

1993.) The national organization of the Labor Party controlled the leading Labor

newspaper, Abeiderblader. There was strong technical, economical, editorial

cooperation between Labor Papers and they were seen as a newspaper chain. All

papers remained independent until 1990 when all the Labor papers merged into one

company (Ostergaard, 1992.) Currently, there are one or two newspapers in each

town, except for larger cities. The largest newspaper is the Oslo-bases tabloid,

Verdens Gang, which is read by 1,384,000 people ( The other

nation-wide popular newspaper is the Dagbladet. These two tabloids contain news

background, comments, and debate on both political and cultural affairs. There

is no value-added tax or VAT, on newspapers in Norway ( Most of the

large newspapers are Conservative or Liberal ( Newspapers and

television are the most widely used media in Norway. Television Norwegians had

their first real taste of television through the spillover effect of Swedish TV

and Danish TV. There are two Norwegian channels that cover the entire country.

One is 30 year-old NRK (Norwegian Broadcasting Channel) which is a network of

TV, radio, news, sports, culture, drama, and entertainment ( The

NRK used to be state-owned but in 1988 it was transformed into a public trust.

This may have given the institution more independence but regardless, important

decisions about the economy and organizational structure were taken by the

Parliament. NRK was financed by television license fees and special tax on radio

and TV equipment which was also set by Parliament (Ostybe, 1993.) NRK is not a

local channel; therefore, anyone who has a television set must pay the NRK

license. The laws in Norway make it impossible for TV stations to interrupt

shows with commercials (Ostybe, 1993.) Advertising in the media was localized in

1991 but contained restrictions ( Ads promoting alcohol, tobacco

are prohibited and the Act also does not permit advertisements directed at

children. The age group of 67 and older is by far the largest age group that

watches TV. The group of 9-15 year-olds watches half as much TV as the elderly (

Recently, NRK became a joint stock company and the state has become the sole

owner. The Board is disappointed by the government but is not responsible for

the editorial contents. These contents are the responsibility of the Director

General ( Norway?s second channel, TV2 opened five years ago

and is owned by three media corporations: Schibstel, Egmont, and A-pressen (Ostergaard,

1992.) The purpose of TV2 was to contribute to the preservation of Norwegian

language, culture, and identity. TV2 was required to have at least one newscast

per day and a given percentage of the programs were produced in Norway. TV2 is

very popular today and is a major competitor to NRK ( Radio The

most important position radio ever had in Norway was during WWII when it was

used as to transmit news from the British Isles (Ostybe, 1993) The NRK used to

be a state monopoly and was financed by public license fees. Only one channel

existed until 1981 when a second was introduced followed by the third channel in

1993. The topography of Norway makes it difficult in distributing main

programming to the entire population, which is the goal of the NRK. The

transmitter system enables the NRK to divide the country into 17 regional units

to manage the transmission of their programs (Ostergaard, 1992.) The Sami

population has their own radio programs. The government has posed regulations on

the industry for decades. In 1987 the Broadcasting Act made local radio

permanent and accepted advertising in local radio (Weymouth & Lamizet, 1996)

The drawback was that a tax was introduced on the revenues from broadcasting

advertisements. This income would be used to subsidize local radio stations in

areas where economic foundations were too weak to support a station. The Act

treated local TV in the same way that local radio was treated, with the

exception of the commercials (Ostybe, 1993.) In 1993, the first private radio

company, P4, was established. The Mass Media Authority licenses this station and

all private radio stations. Mainstream music and news dominate programming at

P4. This station targets young adults and covers 93% of the population (Weymouth

& Lamizet, 1996.) After advertising was allowed in the media in 1991, P4

rapidly gained a substantial share of radio advertising. The radio today is not

as popular as before. There are approximately 3.3 million radios in Norway. This

includes zero short-wave radio stations, 350 radio stations that are private and

143 radio stations owned by the Government. In 1991, 87% of Norwegians had

access to the radio. In 1996, 90% of the population had access. The average

person listens to the radio for 161 minutes per day which is regarded as

moderate radio listening compared to other countries. As with television

viewing, young people listen less than older generation ( By the

end of 1996, another reform reduced the number of licensed stations to 308,

which had to share 220 transmitter systems. In turn, stations had to split

airtime. Approximately 100 stations were run by religious organizations, five by

political parties, five by schools and the rest by other organizations (

Weekly Magazines The total circulation of weekly magazines is approximately 2.7

million ( Weekly magazines must pay a value-added tax. Orkle is the

co-owner along with Egmont of Denmark, of a group of 21 magazines that have a

total circulation of 1.3 million ( The Danish publishing house,

Aller, has a Norwegian subsidiary. This subsidiary owns nine magazines,

including the largest of them all, Serg og Hor (Look and Listen.) (

This publication specializes in news about celebrities and entertainment (Ostergaard,

1992.) One out of fine Norwegians read a weekly magazine on an average day. The

reading has not changed a great deal over the last few years (

Internet Norway is fourth place on the list of Internet connection per capita.

Fifteen percent of the population uses it weekly. Nearly seven percent use the

Internet daily ( In the past years, Internet has spread and more

people are learning English as their first foreign language. Conclusion National

media politics have always been important in Norway. During most of the

1980?s, the Parliament and the Government played an important role in the

formation if the Norwegian Mass Media System. Although advancements in the

system have been made such as TV2 and legalizing advertising, there is still

evidence of a strong constitutional monarchy. In 1980, there was only one

broadcasting institution, NRK, who owned one radio channel and one television

channel. Few European countries had so few radio and TV channels. Many changes

occurred in 1980 which have brought Norway in line with the rest of Europe.

There have been changes in the local and regional levels. Local radio stations

and local TV have been a success. At the regional level, newspapers have fared

well. Nationally, the NRK has increased the number of channels from one to three

and the two national tabloids, the VG and Dagbladet, have increased circulation.

Currently, NRK faces competition from local television and radio stations. The

media structure is less rigid than before. It is apparent at the international

level that Norway is still a receiving country. This is in part due to

government restrictions. Norway is influenced by other cultures such as the

United States and the United Kingdom. Structural changes have been very easy to

see yet all forms of media, will continue to change. Personal Comment Before I

started any research on Norway, I did not know an extensive amount of

information on the country. Norway is not a country that one hears too much

about in school. I knew where it was located and the type of government but I

did not know any specifics about the media system. I was in Europe last semester

and one of my closest friends was from Denmark. All Nordic countries have

similar rules and laws and I was able to learn more about these countries from

my friend. I think that I have come away from my research and this paper with a

great understanding of how the country runs and the political effects on the

media. I have found the most popular forms of media in Norway such as

newspapers, television, and radio to still have some regulation by the

government. I also was able to draw some comparisons with Norway and the United

States on issues such as subsidies, advertising and regulation.

CIA-The World Factbook 1999-Norway. (1999). (

Lamizet, Bernard, Weymouth, Tony (1996). Markets & Myths Forces for Change

in the European Media. New York: Longman. Ostergaard, Bernt Stubbe (1992). The

Media In Western Europe. London: Sage Publications Ltd. Ostybe, Helge (Ed.)

(1993). Nordicom Review of Nordic Mass Communication Research. (vol. 2) Bergen.

Royal Ministry of Foreign Affairs. (1998). Norway. ODIN. (

Statistics Norway. (1999). (

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