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From 1 July 2011, there VAT will be applied to foreign e-books sold to Norway.

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Norway/ 4.2 Specific policy issues and recent debates  

4.2.3 Cultural/creative industries: policies and programmes

The concept of cultural and creative industries does not have a long tradition in Norway. However, in recent years there has been more attention drawn to culture and its potential for economic growth, not least in the political rhetoric. In 2007, the Ministry of Trade and Industry released a plan of action for culture and business in cooperation with the Ministry of Culture and the Ministry of Local Government and Regional Development and in 2013, a new action plan was released.

In 2015 the government financed the establishment of a centre for creative industries (Kunnskapsverket). The centre contributes to the development of a comprehensive knowledge base for cultural industries in Norway.

Innovation Norway, the state-owned company that promotes industrial development, has also put more attention on the cultural industry in recent years, and now considers this as one of their areas of commitment.

Both the government and Innovation Norway particularly focus on the film, book and music industries as well as computer gaming (In 2008 the former government presented a white paper on computer gaming).


It is seen as one of the government's main responsibilities to ensure that in a small country such as Norway there should be a range of films and other audio-visual products that reflect its history, culture and language. In the latest white paper on Norwegian film policy (2015), the present government outlines its goals:

  • Ensure a large and diverse film production of high quality.
  • Ensure the distribution of films to all citizens.
  • Ensure a high audience for Norwegian film and TV series, both domestic and abroad.
  • Encourage the development of a professional and profitable film industry.

There are several schemes of state support for the film industry administered by the Norwegian Film Institute. This includes support for films, TV-series, short-films, documentaries, script development, film export etc.

Recently (2016), the Norwegian Film Institute introduced a new incentive scheme aiming to increase the number of international films and series produced in Norway.

Digitalization has also had several impacts on the film industry, film policy and the way in which Norwegians watch movies. All cinemas in Norway have been digitalized giving the opportunity for most cinemas to present new movies simultaneously. Further digitalization has caused the extinction of video rental shops. Within the last three years (2012-2015) the numbers of video rental shops has dropped from 200 to 10. Simultaneously, the number of subscribers to streaming services such as Netflix and HBO has increased significantly.

Digitalization has also called for a more format-neutral support system. This is emphasised particularly in the latest white paper (2015).


The main categories of instruments in the literature sector are exemptions from outgoing VAT, purchasing schemes and fixed prices on books. Currently the VAT exemptions only include printed books. However, there is an ongoing discussion whether the exception also should include digital books.

During the last few years there have been public debates about a sector agreement for the book trade between the Norwegian Booksellers Association and the Norwegian Publishers Association, which means that there are fixed prices on books during a limited period in Norway. The agreement relies on an exemption from the competition rules that the authorities have approved. The agreement has been perceived as important in order to ensure a decentralised network of bookstores throughout the country, to ensure the income of writers, and the promotion of a diverse literature.

Until 2005, one of the most important provisions of the agreement was the rule whereby the price of books had to be fixed in the year of publication and the following year. While the competition authorities have wanted to remove or radically modify the "book agreement" for the last two decades, the publishing and bookselling sector wanted to implement this in legislation as a law on fixed book prices. The former Minister of Culture presented a draft for such a law in 2013, but the present government did not want to implement it. In 2016 there is still a “book agreement” ensuring similar rights.


Music has always been a prioritised art form in the Norwegian cultural policy, but there are no clear-cut distinctions between ordinary, artistic-based support and support for music with commercial potential. A wide range of popular music festivals and arenas get public support and there are support schemes for musicians in most genres.

Nevertheless, in recent years the government has focused quite a bit on the commercial potential of music, especially on exporting music. Both the Ministry of Culture and the ministry responsible for trade have supported Norwegian music export. Since 2012, Music Norway has been given the mission to promote Norwegian music abroad.

Every year, the Norwegian government invites foreign journalists, experts and representatives of the music industry to the annual music conference By:Larm, which is an arena for promoting Norwegian popular music.

The Norwegian music industry has experienced considerable changes due to digitalization. Total sales of recorded music (CD, DVD, MC etc.) have dropped from NOK 1 billion in 2000 to NOK 86 million in 2014[1]. Income from digital sales and streaming has compensated for some of this loss with an increase of NOK 515 million during the same period.

[1] Statistics from medianorway

Chapter published: 20-03-2017

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