Denmark: political parties set the course

At the beginning of 2018 Denmark’s political parties were arguing over the future of the public broadcaster Danmarks Radio (DR). This was part of the so-called “media agreement”. In Denmark, political parties enter into pacts (known as "forlig") in many policy areas, agreeing to cooperate with each other across party lines. They stick to these pacts until they are either renewed or terminated, regardless of changes in the governing coalitions.

A mobile unit of the public broadcaster Danmarks Radio (DR).
A mobile unit of the public broadcaster Danmarks Radio (DR).
The conservative minority government and its right-wing populist supporting party the Danish People’s Party had agreed internally to cut DR’s budget by 20 percent and at the same time improve the quality. DR’s fees are to be collected via taxes in the future. The sale of the second television channel TV2 to a private investor is pending - but this has been the case for many years, without it actually happening.

Furthermore, as part of the media agreement, online media may be made exempt from VAT, as is already the case with print media. In the competition for readers and clicks, the online media feel that the various tax models have so far put them at a disadvantage. The Social Democrats are even calling for global players such as Google and Netflix to be made to pay a share of the costs for financing Danish media.

In response to this debate, the largest media company Berlingske announced in February 2018 that by the end of the year it would become Denmark’s leading digital media company, as CEO Anders Krab-Johansen put it, with every paper in the group becoming the digital leader in its field. After 269 years with print media as the group’s core business, the focus has now shifted to a digital journalistic future. All print media layouting is to be outsourced, and 93 of the 900 jobs at the company are to be axed, 23 of which are journalistic positions. Other media groups have not yet announced such plans and investments.

Circulation figures are declining steadily in almost all areas, although some print media reported an increase in readership last year. Many large Danish media no longer report their numbers, relying instead on the reader numbers determined by the polling research group Gallup, which provides specific figures on reach.

New, quality media are currently developing online, such as zetland.dk, where readers pay for individual articles. The site is financed exclusively by this income. Customers are however allowed to share the articles they have paid for on platforms like Facebook so that others can read them.

In the area of media consumption in general, it is becoming apparent that young people are watching less and less television - 12 to 18 year olds, for example, only consume 49 minutes a day, while the over 55s watch 262 minutes of television a day. The latter are also spending less time reading newspapers. A growing number of Danes now use their smartphones to keep abreast of current affairs.

Twitter is used by journalists and politicians but is not often cited as a source. Outside of the debates conducted by politicians and others on the websites of the major newspapers, Denmark lacks a serious political blog culture. The most popular blogs are on fashion and gourmet cooking.

In the sphere of radio there are around fifteen private stations alongside the public ones. Radio24syv, operated by the media group Berlingske Media, enjoys nationwide success.
According to the group's announcements in February 2018, a new concept is to be found to generate additional revenue through podcasts.
Press Freedom Index (Reporters Without Borders):
Rank 9 (2018)

Last updated: May 2018


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