"Disappointing proposal for media ownership legislation"

Schibsted ASA (SCH) , Published 04/06/2004 15:14:23

The Government has today presented their proposal for changes in the media ownership legislation. Amongst other, the proposal includes stronger limitations on cross-ownership for companies with operations within different media areas.
– The proposal from the Government presented today is as far as we can see, even more restrictive than the draft presented by the Minister of Culture in January. If the proposal is decided, it will be impossible for Schibsted to increase its operations in Norway. We are clearly already too large for the Government. On behalf of Schibsted I am very disappointed by the proposal, comments CEO Kjell Aamot.
– This legislation will hurt and disadvantage the media industry. The industry needs operating conditions permitting a natural development. It is a paradox that legislation promoting media plurality could in the longer term ruin several of the traditional newspapers.
In the “Sem statement”, the Government promised to soften media ownership limitations. Kjell Aamot does not view the present proposal as a softening:
– This could not be characterized as anything but a broken promise compared to the “Sem statement”. What the Government has proposed today is in reality to limit the possibility to establish operations within the media industry. With this legislation, if it is decided, it is going to be more difficult to run operations rationally for the media groups. Over time, I see a real danger that the legislation will contribute to the opposite of its intentions, namely to protect editorial freedom.
Mr. Aamot finds it disappointing that the Government has not fully understood the current media situation, and that the objections from a joint media industry against the hearing draft from the Minister of Culture has not been listened to – except on a regional level:
– The boundaries between the different media are vanishing. The media, IT and telecoms industries are converging. The Government shows lack of knowledge in trying to contruct walls between TV, radio and the newspaper industry. The traditional media become very vulnerable if they are not allowed to pursue the media consumers across media boundaries into new areas. The newspapers are particularly exposed, as they carry the majority of the costs relating to news production.
– Nobody, not even the Governement, has ever claimed that the Norwegian media groups have reduced the editorial plurality in Norway. Strong limitations on the media industry from the Government can hardly be seen as industry friendly policy, says CEO Kjell Aamot in Schibsted
Contact persons:        
CEO Kjell Aamot, telephone +47 91 68 66 90
EVP Jan Erik Knarbakk, telephone +47 23 10 66 00
Oslo, 4 June 2004
Schibsted ASA
Kjell Aamot