Our Norwegian correspondent The Observer sends his translation of an article about the reluctance of the Norwegian government to let control of a media outlet slip out of Norwegian (i.e. governmental) hands.
The translator includes this note:
This article deals with political interference in the proposed sale of a Norwegian TV station to a foreign corporation. It clearly shows that various Labour and socialist politicians in Norway don’t wish to relinquish the massive control they exert over various partially state-owned media outlets in Norway.
It also gives validity to the information that was presented in the earlier Gates of Vienna post about Norway’s state-controlled media.
The translated article from E24 Media:
The outsourcing of TV2 is not a desirable scenario
Giske sends a clear message to Telenor
Norwegian Minister of Industry and Trade Trond Giske (Labour Party) expresses strong opposition to the proposed sale of the Norwegian TV station, TV2 to Danish company Egmont.
If it goes ahead, the proposed sale of A-Pressens’ TV2 to the Danish company will be strongly opposed by coalition politicians in Norway. So strong is this opposition that Trond Giske has personally contacted Telenor chairman, Harald Norvik to express his displeasure.
“I told Norvik that the proposed outsourcing of TV2 is not a desired scenario, and that there is strong political opposition to this sale,” Giske says, adding:
“I have yet to meet one red-green coalition politician who thinks that selling TV2 to a foreign company is a good idea.”
The reason why Giske felt prompted to personally contact the Telenor chairman is that the Norwegian state, along with LO [Norway’s largest labour union], is the biggest shareholder in A-pressen. Telenor Media owns 44% of A-pressen, while LO owns 35.6%. Giske’s own department is the formal owner of the Norwegian’s states shares in Telenor: The Norwegian state owns 54% percent of Telenor.
“I made it clear to Telenor that I believe that this sale, if it goes ahead could harm Telenor’s social reputation,” Giske said.
Giske is not worried about being criticized for interfering in the affairs of a state-owned company.
“We [the Norwegian state] have no veto rights, even though we are the largest shareholder. It is the responsibility of the board to reach a final decision. But, like every other owner, we can still express our opinion about the social repercussions of this sale,” Giske says.
Several sources have confirmed that A-pressen is well into in the process of selling TV2, in which both A-pressen and Egmont own 50 percent of the shares.
Several politicians and political commentators have criticized LO in strong terms for selling a large national media company to a foreign corporation.
Gunn Karin Gjul, the spokeswoman for the Labor party, and Liv Signe, director of Q, have warned LO leader Roar Flåthen about selling TV2 to the Danish company.
Telenor chairman Harald Norvik declined to comment on the sale.
PS: The three employee representatives from A-pressen yesterday went on record and expressed opposition to the proposed deal.