A Case History: How The Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation (NRK) Met The Competition From Commercial Stations In The Early Nineties

Erik Dalen
Markeds- og Mediainstituttet A/S (MMI), Norway
Tor Fuglevik
Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation (NRK)), Norway


Until the 1980's, broadcasting in Norway was limited to one national radio station and one national TV-channel, both operated by the same public service institution, The Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation (NRK). This implies that, although the idea of a public broadcasting monopoly was shared with most European countries, Norway stayed a 'one radio society' for a 'conspicuously' long time, longer than any comparable country. Around 1980, however, the monopoly system of broadcasting was under pressure everywhere in Western Europe, and Norway was no exception. The proponents for change were pursuing a number of strategies of which to dismantle the monopoly from within, or give it competition from outside, were the main alternatives. The leading Norwegian protagonist for change, the Conservative Party, pursued both of them simultaneously. The big opportunity to implement its own policy the party got in 1981, when it formed its first, non-coalition government after decades in opposition. The new power was used to start the second radio station already planned by NRK, and to launch a series of local broadcasting experiments outside the monopoly. The radio revolution had begun. However, it took another ten years before it resulted in the fundamental changes described in this paper.