The Norwegian media ownership act and the freedom of expression

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Abstract

The stated purpose of the Norwegian Media Ownership Act is to promote freedom of expression. Its true purpose is to restrict the political impact of making expressions. The discrepancy between the stated and true purpose is the issue discussed in the article. It explains the act as a result of the party system having lost its historical control over the media system. Rather than regulating the freedom of expression the act therefore regulates the right to influence public opinion. The parties saw no need to regulate political influence at the time they monopolized it. That need emerged when the media became independent and started challenging the influence of the parties. The result is therefore a Media Ownership Act favouring political influence via state-controlled broadcast media answerable to the political system, and restricting political influence via a privately controlled daily press answerable to the market. An act really promoting the freedom of expression would not regulate the right to influence public opinion, but restrict the opportunities of both public and private media to censor the expressions of the citizens.

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