Theater of Cruelty

Wolf, wolf!

This time it is serious. Will the government have a broad Norwegian public – or will it not? Help us, Trond Giske!


From New Year, Norway Post will introduce the postage increase, which may cost more journalists in this newspaper the job. Then Norway Post is finished with its escalation of postage increase for magazines and newspapers. From now on, it should have no bearing on whether you send out advertisements or magazines produced by volunteer work. You must pay the cost price for the shipping regardless of the content. In any case, the magazine postage must be paid as if the publication weighed 150 grams, and an ever-increasing circulation is required for discounted schemes. The large weekly magazines that weigh more than the target and have a circulation of more than 100.000, will save money on this. All Norwegian journals will face a roughly estimated doubling of postage costs. For Ny Tid, this means a doubling of the costs of distribution, corresponding to the salaries of two full-time journalists. Without them, we might as well shut down.

Yawn, you might be thinking. Wolf now again? Well, you've heard the lesson before. Also with the previous state budget, we shouted that the proposed framework conditions would mean the end of the newspaper. Yes, that's right. A turnaround in the last round of the budget saved us that year. This year it's on again. In the so-called meaningful public, with weekly newspapers and magazines, the framework conditions are so small and so vulnerable that they are completely unpredictable from year to year. Every year, we face threats of cuts in press support, an increase in postage or a redistribution of the reward system – so that the largest get a larger share of the pot.

So this year is the postage it is about. The actual distribution, which makes it possible to create a newspaper in Oslo on a Thursday and get it at lunch in Tromsø the next day. The mail only does as they have been told. The postage increase is the final part of a three-year escalation of a statutory requirement from the Norwegian Post and Media Authority. Because politicians have organized the monopoly business as just a business, it must follow European rules and set prices in accordance with costs.

This week, the parliamentary committees have been open to deputations. Several have pointed out the seriousness of the postage increase, media organizations have long been on the field. Double distribution costs mean twice as difficult working conditions for the smallest and most endangered media. This has caused the Minister of Transport and the Minister of Culture to talk together. That's a beginning. But much indicates that Liv Signe Navarsete and Trond Giske are unable to come up with any solution in time. Statements by Secretary of State Steinulf Tungesvik in the Ministry of Transport and Communications indicate that the most realistic result is a partial compensation for those who scream the loudest. "The most natural thing is that we will come back to this by revising the national budget in May," Tungesvik told Dagsavisen earlier this week. It is clear that the Secretary of State has not understood the seriousness. By May, a number of both magazines and weekly newspapers may already have entered.

The subsidized postage has been the gateway to a meaningful public. The Soria Moria Declaration has many nice words about both media diversity and that Norway Post should remain 100 percent state-owned. It goes without saying that a state monopoly cannot operate solely by business economic standards. It goes without saying that a solution to this problem cannot come through a simple increase in press support. That item in the state budget is divided into so many quirky categories, which are reorganized so often that it will be even more difficult for the weekly newspapers to write budgets from year to year. The magazines also fall apart. We do not cry for the single lamb. We call for the very basis of real freedom of speech. The wolf is near.

The solution must come in a combination of transport and cultural policy. Giske and Navarsete must work together. They can look to Denmark for model. In the EU country on the other side of the Kattegat, Norway Post is subject to the same rules and conditions of competition as here. There, they have solved the problem by subsidizing Norway Post's unprofitable mailings – according to content criteria. The weekly newspapers and magazines are still sent out at a loss, but Norway Post saves budget responsibility for cultural policy transfers. There is a difference between freedom of expression and advertising.

The government showed by spending NOK 30 million on a house in Bygdøy that there is a will for symbolic politics. When it offered only 25 million for the vast area of ​​Hardangervidda, they doubted whether the symbols or principles were the most important. The red-green government now has the opportunity to be principled. Guess, you hear? If not, the wolf will take us.

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