ESA confirms that the TV 2 agreement for public service broadcasting in Norway is in line with state aid rules
In September 2018, the Norwegian Ministry of Culture entered into an agreement with TV 2 for granting compensation for commercial public service broadcasting. ESA received a complaint from Discovery, which argued that the agreement was in breach of the EEA state aid rules.
According to the agreement, TV 2 shall broadcast daily news on its main channel, Norwegian-language children’s programmes in the weekends and invest in Norwegian film and drama. The aim is to ensure media pluralism, production of news outside of the Oslo area, and an alternative to the public broadcaster NRK. TV 2 receives up to NOK 135 million a year for these services.
ESA has concluded that the agreement meets the conditions laid down in the SGEI Decision (2012/21/EU). The agreement is therefore block exempted and ESA rejects the complaint as unfounded. In doing so, ESA recognizes the important role of public service broadcasting for ensuring media pluralism. This is in line with the Norwegian Parliament and Government’s expressed view.
ESA’s decision provides useful guidance on the application of the EEA state aid rules in the field of broadcasting. Furthermore the case is a good example of how the SGEI framework, when used correctly, may be utilized to benefit public authorities, suppliers and the community as a whole.
Simonsen Vogt Wiig assisted TV 2 through the tender procedure and with state aid advise both throughout the tender procedure and in ESA’s complaint procedure following the award.