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Norway/ 5.3 Sector specific legislation  

5.3.7 Mass media

The following acts cover mass media issues:

  • Broadcasting Act (1992);
  • Media Ownership Act (1997); and
  • Television Standards Act (1987).

Norway has no separateAct relating to the press, but various provisions of the General Civic Penal Code apply. Article 100 of the Constitution protects the freedom of the press. Article 100 reads:

There shall be freedom of expression.

No one may be held liable in law for having imparted or received information, ideas or messages unless this can be justified in relation to the grounds for freedom of expression, which are the seeking of truth, the promotion of democracy and the individual’s freedom to form opinions. Such legal liability shall be prescribed by law.

Everyone shall be free to speak their mind frankly on the administration of the State and on any other subject whatsoever. Clearly defined limitations to this right may only be imposed when particularly weighty considerations so justify in relation to the grounds for freedom of expression.

Prior censorship and other preventive measures may not be applied unless so required in order to protect children and young persons from the harmful influence of moving pictures. Censorship of letters may only be imposed in institutions.

Everyone has a right of access to documents of the State and municipalities and a right to follow the proceedings of the courts and democratically elected bodies. Limitations to this right may be prescribed by law to protect the privacy of the individual or for other weighty reasons.

The authorities of the state shall create conditions that facilitate open and enlightened public discourse.

Article 100 is generally understood to prohibit prior censorship. However, the Court of Enforcement may issue an order to restrain publication if it threatens to seriously harm the interests of the plaintiff. Such injunctions remain very few and rare.

In Norway, advertisements promoting alcohol and tobacco are prohibited, as well as advertising which is not in accordance with the principle of equality between the sexes, as well as advertising for certain medicines. It is also prohibited to advertise for gambling, with an exception for state permitted gambling entities. Furthermore, the Broadcasting Act(1992) limits the volume of advertising allowed and prohibits advertising directed towards children.

There are no laws regarding ethical standards in the media. However, since 1936 the printed press has maintained a Code of Ethical Standards through the establishment of the Press Complaints Commission. Since 1996, complaints against radio and television are also dealt with by this Commission, although a special Broadcasting Complaints Commission was in operation until the summer of 1998 in accordance with the Broadcasting Act. The basis for the hearings by the Press Complaints Commission is the Code of Ethics, which is drawn up by the press organisations through their common organisation, the Norwegian Press Association.

Chapter published: 20-03-2017

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