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Media Landscapes


Written by Per Jauert


Denmark is by geographical size one of the smaller among the Nordic countries, covering 43.098 km squared. Denmark is a highly industrialised, knowledge-based society that focuses on education and innovation. One of Denmark’s special characteristics is its high level of environmental protection, which is also reflected in very high production activity in the fields of the environmental technologies and windmill sectors. Greenland and the Faroe Islands in the Atlantic Ocean are also part of the Danish realm, although they enjoy extensive home rule. Denmark is a member of the EU, whereas Greenland and the Faroe Islands have decided against EU membership.

In 2008 5.5 million people were living in Denmark in 2.5 million households. Although there are many different dialects, all Danes speak the same language – Danish. Approximately 260,000 people – or 5 percent of the population – are foreign nationals. 80.000 of them are from the Nordic Countries, the EU or North America. The rest comes from Eastern Europe, the Middle East or Africa, primarily from Turkey, Pakistan, Iraq, Iran, Somalia or the former Yugoslavia. 982.000 people are aged more than 55 years, and approximately 3 million belong to the economically active age group.

In 2008 the GNP was 1.739 billion DKK, approx. 233 billion EURO.

Like most Western European countries the media system has changed rapidly during the last decade, mainly in the supply of products and media content. Especially the growth of the number of households with PC and Internet connection has been remarkable and has ranked Denmark among the top five in the world. It is also important to notice that the growing use of the Internet has not led to dramatic changes in the use patterns of other media, especially radio and television have kept their positions in the consumer behaviour.

The newspaper subscriptions are facing a severe decline, caused partly by the introduction of free newspapers, partly by the growth of advertising on the Internet. Along with the more intense competition and lower income from print media advertising, this has influenced the motivation of the newspaper companies to improve their presence on the Internet and transform the newspaper companies into media companies, including primarily the Internet, but to some extent also radio and television. But due to the special market conditions for commercial radio and television in a small country like Denmark, just a few newspaper companies have engaged in local radio and television initiatives alongside expanding on the Internet. Nordjyske Medier being the main example of such a ‘complete’ multimedia engagement.

The regulatory framework for print media is handled by The Prime Minister’s Department, including press subsidies.

State subsidies to print media are given in form exemption from VAT charge and reduced rates on postal distribution, approximately an amount of 208 million euro per year.

The Danish media landscape has noted a steady decline in the number of newspapers since World War II ,with an average decrease of more than 25 percent per decade. Today there are only 32 newspapers.

Danish print newspapers are traditionally divided into five main segments:

  • Large nationally distributed (4): Morgenavisen Jyllands-Posten (132.000 daily copies), Politiken (112.000 daily copies), and Berlingske Tidende (108.000 daily copies). Those are published seven days a week. Weekendavisen (56.000) – weekly.
  • Small nationally distributed (4): Borsen (72.000), Kristeligt Dagblad (25.000), Erhvervsbladet (29.000) and Information (21.000). Not published on Sundays.
  • Regional and local papers (22) ranging in daily copies from 70.000 (JydskeVestkysten) to 1.800 (Kerteminde Avis). Four are out seven days a week, the rest six days or less.
  • Tabloids (2) : Ekstra Bladet (97.000) and B.T.(87.000). Both published seven days a week.
  • Free newspapers (3): metroXpress (226.000), Urban (197.000), 24 timer (201.000). Published only Monday-Friday.

The print newspaper market is characterised by the fact that competition no longer exists on some local markets, whereas the large nationally distributed papers have been in a situation of intense competition since the mid-1990s. The total circulation of Danish newspapers has declined rapidly over the past ten years, from 1,600,000 in daily circulation to 1,130,000, free newspapers not included.

Denmark's two tabloids have shrunk, having lost more than 40 percent of their combined circulation over the past ten years. Their total daily circulation is currently 184,000.

Among local and regional papers we find a corresponding decline, but also the most comprehensive structural changes that occurred in the branch during the period. Within the local and regional press, where local monopolies have been common for some years now, we note a tendency towards regional monopolies through fusions, concentration of ownership and strategic alliances. The Copenhagen-based Berlingske Media, owned by the UK based Mecom Group plc has, through mergers and alliances with other newspapers, become the most important player in the field as far as direct and indirect control over circulation is concerned.

Since 1985, there has been an overall decrease in the amount of circulation of all five categories of Danish newspapers, among which the two tabloids have faced the biggest loss. The expansion of journalistic input, both quantitative and qualitative, has not resulted in an increase in readership for the traditional newspapers, though. On the contrary, readership steadily declined until the introduction of traffic/free newspapers around the turn of the century, when we have experienced a steady increase in readership. In 1993 74 percent of the adult population (12+) read one newspaper per day, in 2006 it was 72.5 percent. In 2008 it was 68.9 percent.

The competition on advertising has been very intense among Danish newspapers during the last decade, in some periods of time resulting in price dumping and consequently in considerable loss of income for some newspaper groups. In 1995 the Danish newspapers had a share of 35 percent (439 million euro) of the total advertising market. In 2005 it was reduced to 27 percent (421 million euro), and in 2008 it was down to 19 percent. (367 million euro). This only adds to the fragile financial situation among all papers losing advertising, mainly to the Internet.

With 231 district papers distributed free of charge and a circulation of approximately 6.7 million copies per week in 2007, this is definitely a widespread phenomenon in Denmark, which puts Denmark in a league of it’s own by international comparison. Most of these papers are weeklies, and they are distributed locally in areas defined by the inhabitants' shopping patterns. The district press has increasingly come to assume the role that local newspapers previously played. Surveys have found that as much as 28 percent of the local population (aged 13 and over) names the district papers as the primary source to local information.

In 2001 a Danish version of the free paper metroXpress was launched in Denmark, followed by similar initiatives from the main newspaper companies in Denmark. The same year Berlingske Media published Urban, Nordjyske Medier launched 10 minutter in 2002, Xtra by Fyens Stiftstidende (2005) and JP-Aarhus (2003) by Morgenavisen Jyllands-Posten. In 2004 the three first mentioned had a circulation of 409,000 copies, in 2005 all free papers had 568,000 copies. In 2008 the three remaining had 624,000 copies.

These newspapers have been called the first generation of free newspapers, but recently changed their term to “traffic papers”, because they are distributed on the commuter traffic lines in the morning. In 2006 the Icelandic Company Dagsbrun introduced a free newspaper in Denmark, Nyhedsavisen, distributed free of charge every weekday morning to in principle all Danish households. This initiative was considered “a declaration of war” on the newspaper market by the establishment of free/traffic and subscription newspapers, and it was followed by similar initiatives from the three large nationwide dailies. JP/Politiken launched “24timer” and Berlingske Media “Dato” (closed down after a few months). So far each of these two free newspapers were bringing a daily loss of estimated 1 million DKK (134,200 euro) to their publishers, and furthermore they were influenced by the increasing decline of copies of subscription newspapers, and also affected by serious problems with daily distribution, which was a side-effect of the presence of these new competitors on the market. The distribution companies were unable to handle this sudden expansion, mainly because of the lack of qualified delivery personnel, and this situation influenced negatively on the distribution of the existing subscription newspapers.

With the decline in advertising revenue and the huge distributions cost most of the free newspapers went off the market. In 2007 only three remained: metroXpress and 24 timer, which established a common distribution company. The third free newspaper on the market is Urban, owned by Berlingske Media.

According to Dansk Oplagskontrol (Danish Audit Bureau of Circulations) there were 15 weekly and 49 monthly and quarterly magazines on the Danish market in 2008. In 1996 the Danish weeklies had a circulation of 1.8 million copies, monthlies and quarterly magazines a circulation of 1.140 million. In 2006 the numbers were 1.6 million for weeklies, and for monthly and quarterly magazines 1.3 million. In 2008 the figures were 1.4 million for weeklies, and for monthly and quarterly magazines 1.3 million.

Radio broadcasting started in Denmark in 1925 by the state, and from the beginning the status of the Danish Broadcasting Company (DR) has been that of an independent public institution, financed by licence fees and governed by a board, appointed by the Ministry of Culture and the major political parties in the Parliament. DR maintained a monopoly status until 1983, when local (community) radio and television was introduced. In 2003 the first nationwide private (commercial) stations were launched.

The current public service radio system in Denmark consists of one independent broadcaster: DR. DR runs 3 national FM channels: P1, is a ‘serious’ talk channel with a daily reach of 8 percent, P2, a channel focusing on cultural issues and classical music with a daily reach of 5, and P3, a music and entertainment channel for younger people, with a daily reach of 29 percent. DR also runs 11 regional stations sharing a fourth channel, P4, and on average the regional channels have a daily reach of 43 percent.

Besides DR runs two AM-channels and 14 DAB-channels of which 12 are produced for DAB whereas the remaining two are parallel distribution of the FM channels P1, P2 and P3.

On the Internet all of these FM- and DAB channels are distributed along with web radio only channels, a total number of 28 channels. In total, public service radio in Denmark has a total marked share of 74.5 percent, the two nationwide private channels and the local commercial radio stations 25.5 percent.

The commercial radio system in Denmark includes over 100 local and regional stations, an increasing number of which is associated as part of networking agreements (i.e. The Voice (SBS), ANR (Nordjyske Medier) etc.)

In November 2003 two new commercial stations were launched, Radio 100 FM and Sky Radio. The FM and DAB licenses for those two new (partly) nationwide stations were auctioned away in 2003 for 65 m euro (Sky Radio) and 28 m euro (Radio 100 FM) for an eight-year period. The new commercial players had initially great expectations to the virginal Danish market for radio commercials. The share of radio commercials of the total annual turnover for all commercial media in Denmark has never been more than 2 percent, compared to a European average of 6/7 percent (Gallup), and the new players announced a possible increase to reach 4/5 percent within the eight year period. These expectations were not met. Instead the share decreased over the next two years, and with a similar disappointing audience share, the management of Sky Radio decided to close down operations in Denmark in November 2005, with a deficit of 40 m euro - and a debt of 43 m euro to the Danish State for the remaining part of the license period. In August 2006 the available license was out for a new auction, and it was sold to TV 2, the second national public service television broadcaster, also for eight years and for 28 m euro. The station called TV 2 Radio was launched in February 2007. It lasted only for well over a year, because of low ratings – a market share of only 4/6 percent. In April 2008 it was sold to SBS Radio (The Voice local radio network), with TV 2 as a 30 percent shareholder, paying the annual charge to the Danish state and delivering news to Radio Nova, which became the name of the third holder of this license. At the end of 2008 it reached a market share of 6 percent among the 21/50 years old.

In November 2009 the Dutch owner, Radio Talpa International, decided to close down Radio 100 FM because of a growing deficit and an improved, but still low share of 14 percent at the end of 2008 (among the 21/50 years old), and returned the license to the Danish State. The station continues to broadcast on local frequencies.

Three main factors are behind the failure of introducing nationwide commercial radio in Denmark: Firstly the market position of DR is very strong, especially P3 and P4 with updated and popular music formats in combination with popular DJs; secondly the buyers of radio commercials showed to be quite sceptical of the efficiency of radio commercials compared to other types of radio. Thirdly Sky Radio did not seem to have invested sufficient resources in analyzing the specific Danish market situation. The well-known Dutch Sky Radio format (soft, no DJs, news on the hour) was just imported, but it did not appeal that much to the Danish Radio audience, and TV 2 did not have a consistent format from the beginning.

The most dominant local/community radio stations are located in Jutland, and none of the stations come from the two biggest cities in Denmark: Copenhagen and Aarhus. Local loyalty in listening to radio plays an important role in the areas outside the big cities in Denmark.

In Denmark people listen to radio about 2 hours and 15 minutes a day on average. Compared to the other Nordic countries: Sweden (2 hours, 43 minutes); Norway (2 hours, 26 minutes); Finland: (3 hours, 22 minutes).

DR – Danish Broadcasting Company - started broadcasting television in 1951 and its monopoly status went on until 1988, when the second national public service television channel - TV 2 - was launched, including eight regional stations each with a daily 30-minute local news program.

Due to lack of analogue terrestrial frequencies, DR and the second state-owned public service broadcaster, TV 2 has privileged positions in the television landscape. DR is a state-owned independent institution, financed only by license fee, while TV 2 is financed partly by advertisements (the main channel) and license fee (the regional channels). TV 2 has the status of a 100 percent state-owned private limited company.

Other television channels have to be distributed by cable and satellite, reaching only 74 percent of the population. Beside the two public service institutions there are two privately owned trans-national commercial companies. Viasat (owned by MTG) and SBS (owned by ProSiebenSat1), aimed exclusively at the Danish market.

These four media groups – DR, TV 2, Viasat and SBS – have over the years increased their number of channels. DR1 is the main general public service channel, while DR 2 (launched in 2006) is a ‘cultural channel’, focusing on documentaries, magazine programmes, satire and art films. TV 2 DANMARK is the main general channel with public service obligations, while the rest of the TV 2 channels operates on commercial conditions (ads and pay-channels): TV 2 Zulu (youth channel) (2000), TV 2 Charlie (the mature audience) (2004), TV 2 Sputnik (Internet based tv-channel) (2004) , TV 2 Film (2005), TV 2 News (2006) and TV 2 Sport (2007). Viasat runs TV3 and TV3+ (mainly film, series, reality and soap) and TV3+ is also involved in TV 2 Sport (shared programmes). Furthermore Viasat has TV3 PULS, Viasat Explorer and Viasat History. SBS has five channels aimed at Denmark: Kanal 4 (previously TV Danmark), aimed at women, Kanal 5 (previously TV Danmark 1), mainly series and sports, and Kanal 6, aimed at men, and finally The Voice TV, a youth channels with music shows and videos. SBS has also SBS Net, a distribution channel for non-commercial local television.

The audience share of the DR1, DR 2 and TV 2 Danmark (incl. the regional stations) is 60 percent. However, with the switch to digital television planned to take place in November 2009 the structural limitations that DR and TV 2 benefit from today will disappear and the entire balance between the different broadcasters operating in Denmark will undoubtedly change. In 2008 the audience share for the four television companies, aimed at the Danish market, were:

  • DR: 28.8 percent
  • TV 2: 40.0 percent
  • Viasat: 8.5 percent
  • SBS: 5.6 percent

In spite of a fierce competition from the private television companies, TV 2 is a clear market leader with more than 67.6 percent share of the market for television ads. Neither TV3 nor SBS has national reach until November 2009, but they are nevertheless strong competitors to TV 2, as they attract a substantial part of advertising expenditure. There has been a proliferation of both public service and commercial channels, leading to an increased competition for audiences and revenues, but it hasn’t really changed the balance between the four main broadcasting companies.

Danish film production is subsidised, and the Danish Film Institute (DFI- founded 1997 and a State Institution under the Ministry of Culture) plays an essential role in distribution of different kinds of support. DFI operations extend from participation in the development and production of feature films, short and documentary films, over distribution and marketing, to managing the national film archive and the cinematheque.

2008 was the best year at the box office for Danish films in 30 years. It was the best year for all films at Danish cinemas since 1983, while Danish films had their best year since 1978. Despite of the wide variety of home entertainment available today, Danish films sold over four million tickets in 2008 for a domestic market share of more than 30 percent.

In 2008 28 Danish films were released in the 164 cinemas, organised in the trade organisation Danske Biografer (Danish Cinemas), including the national and international companies like Cinemaxx and Nordisk Film, and in smaller private owned cinemas in smaller cities, quite a few of them run by volunteers.

In 2008 106 American feature films were released, 56 European (excl. Danish) and 16 from the rest of the world. In spite of the American dominance, Danish film had a market share of 33 percent (4.3 million tickets), American film had 52 percent (6.8 million tickets).

Danish film production and distribution is included in the 4 year Media Agreements. In 2007-2010 the annual subsidies are 67 m euro, including 19 million eurp from DR and TV 2 for co-productions.

MEDIA Desk Denmark is a national EU funded institution (EU’s MEDIA programme), connecting Danish film production, cinemas, television companies etc. to co-funded European networks and initiatives in order to stimulate a European audio-visual sector. A great part of the Danish feature film releases in recent years were subsidised through the MEDIA programme.

Danish Telecommunications is regulated by the National IT and Telecom Agency under The Ministry of Science and Technology.

In 1995 the regional telecommunication companies were integrated in a national, state-owned company: Tele Danmark. Following the EU-initiated liberalisation of the telecom market, other companies entered the Danish market. In 1997 Tele Danmark was privatised, and over the years it has had conglomerates of venture capital firms as owners. In 2000 the company changed its name to TDC (Tele Denmark Communications), because TDC now also operated in other European countries. In spite of a deregulated market in mobile and cable telephony, broadband (Internet, television, radio) and other telecommunications services, TDC has kept its dominant market position. Other main operators are the Swedish-Finnish Telia (Telia-Sonera), and the Norwegian Telenor.

93 percent (2008) of the Danish population has a mobile phone, but three out of four uses it only for conversation and SMS. Only 25 percent uses more advanced mobile services (MMS, Internet access and e-mail).

In 2008 Internet penetration in Denmark was 85 percent in private homes. Broadband connections are used in 90 percent of the households with Internet connection. In 2008, 84 percent of the population accessed the Internet within the previous 3 months. Private purposes are mainly e-mail (91 percent), search for information and access to on-line services (87 percent). 62 percent download or read news. Most Internet transactions deal with travel products and entertainment of different sorts (56 percent).

All newspapers have a regularly updated online version, and the major newspapers have started e-paper versions and/or special sections for subscribers of the printed newspaper.

The major media companies are among the most visited web sites. In 2008 DR (Denmarks Broadcasting Company) was no. 4 and TV 2 was constantly among the Top 10. Google is on top of the list, followed by Facebook. Among the newspapers Ekstra Bladet is the only one in Top 10.

On average in 2008 the number of users are:

  • 1,655,000
  • 1,423,000
  • 1,182,000
  • 753,000

All media are digital in production, storing and editing. Terrestrial television in Denmark will go digital by November 2009, while radio still have both analogue and digital distribution. In Europe Denmark in the lead with digital radio (DAB), covering around 30 percent of the households. In order to speed up the roll out of DAB, the parliament is aiming to decide in 2010 whether the analogue radio should be switched off in 2015. This is meant also to stimulate the weak commercial radio sector.

All major radio channels are transmitted on the Internet, and the same goes for the public service channels.

In Denmark there is only one news agency, Ritzaus Bureau, which is an independent Danish news agency, and it has subscribers among most of the printed press and electronic media, as well as several ministries and financial institutions. The core product is written news, but also radio soundbites and video clips are offered, all distributed online to Danish subscribers and several media in Scandinavia. Ritzaus Bureau cooperates with the European news agencies and employs special and permanent correspondents in a number of international capitals.

The major media organisations concerning the press, radio and television are:

  • Danske Dagblades Forening (Danish Newspaper Publishers´Association), situated in Pressens Hus (The House of the Danish Press) in Copenhagen, covering publishers in commercial radio, weeklies, magazines;
  • Dansk Journalistforbund (The Danish Union of Journalists) which organises people in journalistic functions.
  • Producentforeningen (The Producers Association) is a trade union of producers within film, television and computer games.
  • Danske Mediers Forum (Danish Media Forum) is an alliance consisting of seven Danish media organisations and the two broadcasting corporations DR and TV 2/Danmark.
  • Foreningen af Danske Interaktive Medier (FDIM) - The Union of Danish Interactive Media - is a trade organisation for Danish Internet Media. Members are broadcasters, newspapers, web-only media, national web portals etc.

When TV 2 was established in 1988 as the second Danish public service television broadcaster, it was organised with a minimum of in-house production. Except from news and sport all production of drama, fiction, documentaries etc. were outsourced to private production companies. The intention was to stimulate the growth of a number of small companies, but in fact the main content providers showed to be the major companies, i.e. Nordisk Film (Egmont) and Metronome.

Both TV 2 and DR have a majority of content produced in Denmark (DR mainly in-house) as part of the public service remit, but it is a well researched fact that the main provider of news is the printed press (newspapers), being the first stage in the food chain.

Egmont is the largest Danish production company with an annual revenue of 1.514 m euro (5th among the Nordic countries) (2007). It covers three main areas: publishing (books, magazines), film and television production (Nordisk Film), and cinemas (Nordisk Film Biografer). The second is Aller, specialised in magazines and weeklies in all Nordic countries, with a dominant market position in Denmark, Norway and Sweden. Third is JP/Politikens Hus – a merged company (2003) between two of the major newspaper companies, also engaged in publishing (books) and television production.

The Ministry of Culture is in charge of broadcast media and press subsidies. The Prime Minister’s Office of print media affairs in general. The Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation of telecommunications. The Agency for Libraries and Media is an agency under the Ministry of Culture and the central government organ for libraries and media.

There is specific legislation for broadcasting, film but no press law and, like in most other European countries, very little specific legislation for the Internet. Legislation concerning media ownership is not an issue in Denmark, but the public service obligation for DR and TV 2 are considered important guarantors for media and cultural diversity, and important tools for the democratic processes in the society.

The media policy framework for broadcast and electronic media is more specified and worked out in detail in Media Agreements among parties in the Parliament.

The Media Agreements are running for fours years.

While the media policy framework for print media is limited to general issues about freedom of expression and the press, the broadcast and electronic media sector has its framework described in the Government Programme, according to specific sets of legislation for the broadcast media and specified in the above mentioned four-year Media Agreement.

State subsidies to print media are given in form of exemption from VAT charge and reduced rates on postal distribution, approx. an amount of 208 m euro per year.

Non-commercial radio and television stations have received subsidies since 1997. In 2006 the grants, which are administered by the Radio and Television Board, totalled 4.3 m euro per year. From 2008 the grants will be augmented to 6.6 m euro, according to the recent Media Agreement.

There is no anti-trust legislation on media concentration in Denmark, but The Danish Competition Authority supervises also the public as well as private media in order to prevent any monopoly situation, related to either national legislation, i.e. the legislation about free enterprise and competition, or to supranational legislation, i.e. EU-regulatory framework on state subsidies, for instance related to public service broadcasting.

The obligation to transmit programmes and services, i.e. the must carry regulation as part of the Radio and Television Act, ensures that certain channels are also available to those households that have accessed the cable networks. The must carry provision obliges cable operators to transmit in their networks the programmes of DR and TV 2 free of charge.

A number of supervising functions are concentrated in the Radio and Television Board (RTB). The RTB monitors the cable operators to see whether the programme delivery is in accordance with the Radio and Television Act, and the same goes for advertising and sponsorship ruling, national networking among commercial radio and television stations, ruling about programme content, related to specific types of broadcasting licenses (local/regional/national, commercial or non-commercial stations, harmful content and protection of minors etc.)

The Press Council is the established pursuant to the Danish Media Liability Act. The Press Council is an independent, public tribunal, which deals with complaints about the mass media in general, i.e. printed and broadcast media. It can rule in cases relating to whether any publication is contrary to sound press ethics and whether a mass media shall be under an obligation to publish a reply.

According to the Media Liability Act both the content and the conduct of the mass media must be in conformity with sound press ethics. The act does not give a complete description of sound press ethics. However, "sound press ethics" is interpreted in the light of the Press Ethical Rules of guidance. Thus the Press Council assesses the circumstances in every single case.

The so-called cartoon debate, following Morgenavisen Jyllands-Postens publication in 2005 of a series of Muhammed drawings caused a severe, global crisis for Denmark, including attacks on Danish embassies in the Middle East, condemnations from the UN General Secretary, former US-president Bill Clinton etc. In Danish media the drawings and their global consequences were subjects of comprehensive public debates. One of the main issues was how the unlimited freedom of expression, stated in the Danish Constitutional Act, should be treated in media products and in public debates. The predominant part of the participants defended the unlimited character of the freedom of expression, but quite a few underlined the responsibility also to consider the context of the matter in question, i.e. the obligation to show respect for religious feelings.

This debate was still running through 2008, but so far is has not in any way influenced the formal bodies in the accountability system.

The specific public service obligations for DR are formulated in a separate public service contract, following the Media Agreement period, and DR has to make reports or accounts to demonstrate how the contract has been fulfilled. TV 2 has also public service obligations, specified in the Radio and Television Act, but not a specific contract.

The Ministry of Culture is in charge of the electronic media, but the regulatory actions and supervision are placed in an independent regulatory board: the Radio and Television Board (RTB), in charge of supervising the implementation of the Danish broadcasting legislation. The RTB has the following tasks:

  • to issue licenses to private national and local broadcasters
  • to monitor whether private and public broadcasters are fulfilling their legal obligations
  • to administer the grants for non-commercial local radio and television.

The RTB consists of seven members, appointed by the Minister of Culture, representing expertise in legal, financial/administrative, business and media/cultural affairs.

The Danish Agency for Libraries and Media is an institution under the Danish Ministry of Culture. The Agency is the secretariat of The Radio and Television Board and has the following tasks:

  • to carry out the daily administration of the broadcasting regulation
  • to prepare the RTB decisions and the implementation of RTB decisions
  • to assist the Ministry of Culture in matters concerning radio and television
  • to be the national knowledge centre in Denmark within media matters for the benefit of public authorities, media corporations, science and research, the general public and so on.

Operating licenses (frequency planning and distribution) is handled by the IT- and Tele Communication Agency within The Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation. The license fee for public service broadcasting, incl. DR and the eight regional TV 2 stations, is handled by DR. The regulatory framework for print media is handled by The Prime Minister’s Department, except the press subsidies, which are handled by the Ministry of Culture.

The formal education of journalists in Denmark began in 1946 at Aarhus University, and in 1962 the Danish School of Journalism became an independent state institution, in 2008 renamed the Danish Media and Journalism School. In 1998 journalism programmes (BA and MA) were introduced at Roskilde University and University of Southern Denmark (Odense), where journalism is combined with other subjects matters (humanities, sociology, science etc.)

The main source for detailed information about Denmark is Danmarks Statistik (Statistics Denmark and Statistisk Årbog (Statistic Yearbook of Denmark), where you can find information of most aspects of Danish economics, political life and social and cultural issues, including media.

NORDICOM – The Nordic Information Centre for Media and Communication Research – is the most comprehensive source for information about the Nordic Media Landscapes, including “ The Nordic Media Market” (to download as .pdf from the web site)

For many years the central topics in Danish media policy has dealt with three main issues: the digitization of the broadcast media, the borderlines between PSB and private broadcast media, and the national media legislation vs. EU legislation concerning state subsidies (licence fee) and competition law.

The PSB institutions hold a very strong position in the Danish media landscape. More than 70 percent of the television viewing is placed on DR or TV 2 channels, and the same goes for the DR radio channels, which holds a dominant market share of 74 percent even after the launch of commercial nationwide radio in 2005. Commercial players and liberal-conservative politicians have often argued for restrictions of the PSB obligations, and asked for more precise definitions in the public service agreements of programme content of ‘public value’, different from programme content that should be left for the commercial operators. In the recent Media Agreement (2007-2010) this ongoing discussion has been meet with a clear statement about DR as the main provider of PSB services on all distribution platforms on a basis of sufficient economical resources. But on the other hand when launching new programme types or services these innovations must pass an internal ‘value test’ in order to prove their cultural, democratic and social relevance. For the upcoming negotiations of the next Media Agreement (2011-2014) the government has announced further restrictions on new DR initiatives on, not least inspired by the print media organisation (Danske Dagblades Forening), which claim that DR by its activities on the Internet impose unfair competition on the media market.

One of the core aims of the liberal-conservative government is to privatize the public owned TV 2. Some years ago it was prepared for sale and transformed from an independent institution (similar to DR) to a state-owned company, but the process has been stopped by the EU because of complaints from MTG, (TV3and TV3+), accusing TV 2 of having received illegal state support through licensee fee involvement in the company surplus of several hundred million euro. As long as this question is not settled the sales process is stopped, and it may take several years before trials within the EU-system have come to a final conclusion. So instead of more privatization of state owned radio and television channels, the state ownership has expanded.

The newspaper market competition has developed event further within recent years and for some of the larger media companies (i.e. Berlingske Media) the situation is close to critical. A newly released (2009) independent report of the reform of state subsidies for media, set up three different scenarios for the future support structure, and the reaction from the printed press has been dominated by arguments in favour of the present construction.

Danish ownership of foreign media is quite limited. The Egmont Group being the largest media company in Denmark is engaged in print publication activities in the UK and the Nordic countries, and also in television programme production and film production. The Egmont Group also owns half of the Norwegian TV2. The second largest private Danish media company, The Aller Group, owns magazine and other print media companies in Finland, Norway and Sweden.

The main challenge for the media companies operating in Denmark is not of a specific national character, but deals with the main tendencies among consumers of media products in the global media market: more specialized and easy accessible products on demand – from a variety of distribution platforms.

  • Befolkningens brug af Internet 2008 [Use of Internet 2008] (200) København: Statistics Denmark.
  • Det danske Reklamemarked 2008. [The Danish Advertising Expenditure Survey: English Summary] København: Dansk Oplagskontrol. (Danish Audit Bureau of Circulations)
  • Ferrell Lowe, Gregory, Jauert, Per (2005) (eds.) Cultural Dilemmas in Public Service Broadcasting RIPE@2005. Göteborg: Nordicom
  • Gallup TV Meter. 2006-2008
  • Gallup Radio Meter. 2008
  • Harrie, E. (2009) The Nordic Media Market – Media Companies and Business Activities. Göteborg: Nordicom.
  • Index Danmark. Gallup 2008
  • Oplagstal og Markedstal (2008)[Circulation Data and Marketing Data]. Dansk Oplagskontrol. (Danish Audit Bureau of Circulations). København.

Per Jauert
Associate professor
Department of Information and Media Studies
Aarhus Universitet
Nordre Ringgade 1
8000 Århus C, Denmark
Tel: + 47 89429224