Media legislation

Freedom of expression is protected by the Constitution (written in 1814) and the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. In 2004, the Norwegian parliament modernised and extended the clause in the Constitution that secures freedom of expression. An important addition is that the government has the obligation to promote diversity in the media and public debate.

Media policy and media regulation can be set by laws, passed by the parliament; by-laws, formulated by the Ministry of Culture or the Norwegian Media Authority; decisions by the parliament, especially linked to decisions about the state budget; decisions in individual cases by the Ministry or the Media Authority. Pre-publication censorship in prohibited, with exception of cinema movies intended for children.

There are specific laws regulating (radio and television) broadcasting: Kringkastingsloven (the Broadcasting Act) and film and cinema: Film- og videogramlova (The Film and Video Act). but no press law and very little legislation specific for the Internet and other media.etc.

The Straffeloven  (Penal Code) contains sections that are of specific interest for the media (pornography, libel, state secrets, protection of privacy, etc.). A section on blasphemy was omitted when a new penal code was passed in 2005 (and put into effect in 2015). The penal code demands that newspapers, magazines etc. and broadcasts, shall have an editor who is responsible for the content.

The relationship between the government and the state-owned broadcasting company (the NRK) is sensitive. It is up to the government and the parliament to decide on matters concerning technology, administration, new services in general, etc. But the Broadcasting Act prohibits interference from these authorities into matters concerning individual programs. Only the Kringkastingssjef (Head of Broadcasting) can stop or demand changes in a program. But the government and the parliament decide on the licence fee and this gives the political authorities some power over the NRK.