Accountability systems

In addition to the three media organisations mentioned in section 2.2 (NJ, NR and MBL), a fourth important organisation is Norsk Presseforbund (NP), which does not represent one particular group, but has a general responsibility for media ethics. NP is responsible for the preservation and development of the Vær varsom-plakaten (Codes of Ethics) for the Norwegian Press , which is also applicable to other media. NP has appointed a Pressens Faglige Utvalg (Press Council ”- PFU) that evaluates individual cases of possible breaches of the ethical rules. The majority of the members come from the media, but there are also members who represent the general public. The Press Council cannot impose sanctions on the media, but can require offenders to publish the Council’s judgements regarding unethical articles or programmes, or unethical behaviour by journalists. Because this system is regarded as fairly competent and just, the state has so far not found it necessary to formalise its control of journalistic work.

Complaints against programs in NRK’s radio and television channels can be raised in the Press Council. But there is also a parallel way of handling such cases, via the Kringkastingsrådet (Broadcasting Council). The members of the Broadcasting Council are selected by the Ministry of Culture (8 members, formally appointed by the King) and the Parliament (6).

Radio and television channels that have to rely on a licence in order to operate, can lose this licence if they break the licence agreement. So far, these kinds of sanctions have rarely been taken.

The legal system can, of course, also be used against the media. As mentioned above, the penal code contains clauses about libel, invasion of privacy, etc. and there are specific laws on how the media can operate in courts of law, copyright legislation, etc.