If we combine reach and time spent on each of the media, television is today the most important medium in Norway.
When the Broadcasting Act was passed in 1933, NRK’s monopoly included ordinary sound broadcasting and “broadcasting of pictures”, which is a fairly accurate definition of television. The NRK started planning for television shortly after the Second World War, but the process took some time. The first test programs were broadcasted in 1954. Regular tests started in 1957. The official opening of television in Norway took place in 1960 -good timing, only a few days later the Olympic games in Rome started, giving television a boost.
NRK’s monopoly ended in 1982-83, when a handful of local radios (via FM) and televisions (in community-based antenna/cable systems) were allowed. Local television has never been a hit in Norway, but some stations still exist. At the same time, distribution of satellite television via cable started in small scale. The first satellite channel that was distributed in Norway was the forerunner of Sky Channel.
In 1988 two Nordic-language satellite channels were launched: TV3 was a pan-Nordic channel owned by the Swedish company Kinnevik (Modern Times Group, MTG) and TVNorge was a Norwegian channel, started by a group of enthusiasts with some experience in television and little money. These channels were distributed via cable and could also be received via a satellite dish.
The first real competition for the NRK came in 1992, when TV 2 was established. The two important owners of TV 2 was the Norwegian newspaper company Schibsted and the Danish media conglomerate Egmont (which had been present in Norway as a magazine publisher since 1911).
The NRK, TV3, TVNorge and TV 2, still represent the core of the Norwegian television market. All of them operate several television channels. The state-owned NRK is the only television company with a Norwegian ownership. TV3 is still owned by MTG. The ownership of TVNorge has changed over time. It is now part of the American media giant Discovery. From 2012 Egmont is the sole owner of TV 2. All these channels are part of multimedia companies.
- The NRK: 3 (4) television channels (NRK1, NRK2, NRK3/NRKSuper; 11 regional news programmes, programs in Sami), radio, Internet
- MTG: 3 general TV channels (TV3, TV6, Viasat4), sports and film channels, radio
- Discovery: 4 general TV channels (TVNorge, FEM, MAX, VOX), sports and documentary channels
- Egmont: several general and news TV channels (TV 2, Zebra, Livsstil, Humor, Nyheter), sports channels, magazines, books, Internet.
NRK1 is the channel with the highest market share, 32 percent - the three NRK channels have a total share of 40 percent. The market share of TV 2 channel is 18 percent and the total share of listening for all the channels operated by the TV 2 company is 27 percent. TVNorge is the third largest TV channel (market share: 7 percent). MTG’s TV3 has a market share of 4 percent.
The NRK channels and TV 2 offer daily news programmes. In addition the TV 2 system includes a 24/7 news channel. The audience can also subscribe to foreign news channels, like BBC World, CNN, Russia Today, Al Jazeera and Sky News; news programs on other channels, mostly Swedish and Danish public-service channels, are also available for many viewers.
NRK’s revenues come mainly from a licence fee. The fee is based on the possession of receiving equipment for television: 2,0 million Norwegian households pay almost 2,800 NOK (around €310) per year.
The commercial television sector relies on revenues from advertising, distribution and special subscription services. The change from analogue to digital signals and from terrestrial to partly Internet distribution, means that the television companies have found new sources of income. The operating revenue has increased year by year for TV 2 and TVNorge (the economy of MTG/TV3 is less transparent).