SCANDINAVIAN MEDIA: Tv’s Teething Problems

David Reed surveys a year in which a Nordic satellite channel fails to take off, and Norway gets three new channels

David Reed surveys a year in which a Nordic satellite channel fails to

take off, and Norway gets three new channels


Perhaps the most dramatic media story of the year in Denmark was one

that did not happen. A joint Nordic satellite project called NSD, backed

by the telecomms operators, Tele Danmark A/S, and Norway’s Telenor AS,

together with Sweden’s Kinnevik, was blocked by the European Union on

the grounds that it would have too dominant a position. What did happen

was the launch of the Danish versions of the new pan-Scandinavian

satellite channels, TV6 and ZTV. Although only aiming for between 2 and

4 per cent share, they have been welcomed by media buyers for their

ability to deliver specific target audiences of women and youth,


‘They have low penetration and not significant ratings, but there is

huge interest from advertisers because they expand the possibilities of

what you can do,’ Morten Christiansen, the deputy managing director of

Carat Denmark, says. But no sooner have the channels come on line than

they are on the move again. The London-based broadcaster, TV3, which is

increasing its share faster than any other station in Denmark, is

shortly to move to a different satellite to improve its reach. At the

same time, it will be offering a new basic package that includes ZTV and


If viewers find the new deal attractive enough to help TV3 increase its

audience further, it will just add to the positive feelings advertisers

have towards the new channels. Women have been easy to target through

existing commercial channels, but only at a high cost per thousand.

Hence the appeal of TV6 as a cheaper way of upweighting campaigns aimed

at the female consumer.

ZTV has probably been more valuable in filling a gap. ‘Youth is a

different matter. You think they are there, but they have just left,’

Christiansen says. He commends the breaks on ZTV for being ‘nice and

clean. You haven’t got toys, detergents and cars, it is a very targeted

market. The ads are all for chewing gum, sports shoes and soft drinks.’

Denmark’s population is less widely dispersed than its Scandinavian

neighbours, making national reach easier to achieve and local

upweighting less difficult than elsewhere. Even so, there was a strong

welcome when the leading commercial station, TV2, introduced two-minute

regional windows at peaktime.

These have been sold out four months in advance and may soon be doubled

in length. ‘They were needed for regional advertisers who couldn’t get

enough airtime on local stations, which, in any event, tend to have low

ratings, especially in Copenhagen and provincial towns,’ Christiansen


In print, consumer titles were hit by an initial loss of around 50 to 60

per cent in ad revenues when commercial TV launched, and have shown

little improvement since. But more specialised titles are picking up,

such as the men’s title, Euroman, and the upscale fashion magazine,

Damernes Verden.

The fact that media owners have not been taking advantage of an overall

increase in demand from advertisers has caused some surprise. Ratecards

for next year have shown only slight increases of around 3.5 per cent.

In broadcast media, TV2 is the benchmark, publishing TVRs of 12+, while

TV3 comes in around 10 per cent lower and a local network, Kanal 2,

between 15 and 20 per cent less. Once the issue of the joint Nordic

satellite project is resolved, and the new cable package beds in,

increased competition seems likely to keep competition sharp.


Nineteen ninety-five was probably the most turbulent year for commercial

TV in Norway since its introduction. The launch in spring of three new

cable and satellite channels has been accompanied by murmurs of

disappointment. But according to Elisabeth Wilhalmsen, the media

director at Carat Norge: ‘Whether the new channels have been successful

depends on what was expected. There has been a lot of bad press, but it

is based on a big misunderstanding.’

TV+, TV6 and ZTV launched with between 15 and 30 per cent distribution

in cable and satellite homes, compared with 50 per cent for existing

stations. According to Wilhalmsen, ‘there are few households in Norway,

but a lot of cable networks’, and many did not sign up for the new

channels. That means the broadcasters are selling against small numbers,

as few as 0.5 to 4 per cent of all TV viewers. TV6 has delivered women

viewers as promised, but the youth-oriented channel, ZTV, has not fared

well with viewers. This is unexpected as many other cable franchises do

not offer MTV, one of its main rivals.

‘For the time being, we have one very dominant commercial TV channel,

TV2,’ says Ola Gaute Aas Askheim, the managing director of media and

marketing research at the JDR/McCann Group. ‘But all the research shows

that you get very good regional reach from that, and the Norwegian

market is very fragmented in terms of where the population lives.’ This

is one reason why TV2 still commands between 65 and 70 per cent of TV

adspend. With primetime TV2 selling a cost per thousand of Norwegian

Kroner 170 (pounds 17), the new channels have pitched their prices at

around NKr112 (pounds 11). ‘The cost is quite high compared with other

European countries,’ Wilhalmsen notes, and also compared with the

consumer press.

Scandinavians are noted for their high levels of reading, and a full-

page, four-colour ad costs between NKr50 (pounds 5) and NKr110 (pounds

11) per thousand in family titles, with specialist media costing from

NKr70 (pounds 7) to NKr110 (pounds 11). There have been some successful

press launches, especially among women’s magazines and style-oriented

men’s titles, such as the weekly, Vi Menn.

Legislative changes have been reshaping the media landscape. Norway’s

parliament is still debating protests by TV2 about local stations re-

broadcasting TV Norge, adding around 5 per cent to its reach and making

it more appealing to advertisers.

At the same time, negotiations are still underway that will cause a big

shake-up in these local TV franchises. Currently, there are 130, each

covering a small geographic area. This is due to be reduced to 29 from

January next year, but plans are far from finalised about which

franchises will carry TV2, TV+ or TV Norge. Outdoor advertising has been

subject to greater restriction too. ‘Contractors are going to clean up a

bit and take down a few boards here and there,’ Askheim says. He adds:

‘Outdoor is quite powerful and fairly well received. Sites are more or

less fully booked already for some periods of next year.’ The

combination of high demand and uncertain distribution means Norway is on

the verge of seeing a spot market for advertising develop for the first

time. ‘We have advised clients to keep budgets back for the last minute.

That is not the habit generally because schedules are full and you have

to get into yearly contracts to be sure of space,’ Wilhalmsen says. No

doubt, the regulators will look into that as well in due course.


Swedish advertisers have been giving ever more emphasis to TV in recent

years. Increased viewing choice is slowly making more of the notoriously

TV-shy Swedes available, and is also giving clients a stick with which

to beat the over-priced print media.

Adspend on TV in 1994 rose by an astonishing 40 per cent, although this

slowed in 1995 from the second quarter onwards to between 5 and 10 per

cent. Next year is forecast at 10 to 15 per cent growth, although 7 per

cent seems more realistic, according to Carat Sweden. Luke Simmonds, the

TV buying director for Young and Rubicam Nordic Media, says this

dynamism is unlikely to settle down yet: ‘Media owners have determined

that the proportion of all ad expenditure going into TV is half what it

is in other countries. So they still see the growth potential as huge.’

But advertisers’ hopes that media owners will respond to the increased

competition by becoming more flexible have yet to be fulfilled. The

commercial terrestrial channel, TV4, successfully snatched the lead in

audience share to establish itself at 29 points from a reach of 48 per

cent (Carat) from the satellite channel, TV3. But now TV4 shows every

sign of becoming arrogant.

Like every station in Sweden, it only sells against programme ratings,

and will only negotiate against programmes with an average rating of 3+.

Its attractiveness to advertisers as the only real way to build weight

nationally may be working against clients’ own interests. In October

alone, the station is rumoured to have turned away around SKr20 million

(pounds 2 million) of advertising (Sweden does not operate a pre-empt

buying system).

According to Richard Davis, media director of Lowe Howard-Spink’s new

Swedish media shop, Message Media, ‘They’re the fat cats of the industry

and they don’t want to change.’ TV4 has set up a department selling

direct to clients, cutting out media shops and agencies.

But even higher on ‘a list of annoyances’, according to Simmonds, is

TV4’s refusal to release its spot log to MMS, which operates the people-

meter system in Sweden. This not only makes media planning harder, it

also adds significantly to the cost of advertising. Buying monitor

research can cost more at ratecard than the spots themselves, at around

SKr50 (pounds 5) per spot logged.

The former ratings star, TV3, has faced a different set of problems.

The year began with Procter and Gamble trying to bring the channel’s

prices to heel by removing it entirely from its media schedule for 1995.

TV3 then experienced a massive slump in share, falling to 10 per cent,

and from February to May there were huge defections, especially of young

viewers. Having brought in a new managing director with a production

background, the station has been beefing up its schedules since

September in an effort to claw back its audience. What Davis calls a

‘renaissance’ in programming has yet to be matched by TV4, which retains

its core primetime scheduling, although it has made efforts to boost

youth viewing.

Regional planning remains difficult as TV is national, except for one

hour of local programming on TV4 in the early evening. But 40 per cent

of the population lives outside Sweden’s cities where satellite and

cable have far lower penetration. While TV3 has a national reach of 53

per cent, between 72 and 75 per cent of its viewers are in the major

cities, giving it only thin coverage of the North.

Despite increased competition between TV and print, and between TV

stations, there is little sign that media owners will rein in their

prices. Having hoped that rivalry from broadcast media would cut the

leading daily newspaper, Dagens Nyheter, down to size, Davis notes that

instead, TV4 is behaving in the same way as the print barons used to.

‘TV did bring down print prices, but TV is still unrealistic. Press

rates will not go back up, TV will not go up, but TV is still too high.

It has to come down,’ he says.


Denmark  Factfile


TOTAL POPULATION                                           5,197,000

ADULT POPULATION  (12+)                                    4,481,000

Number of TV stations                                              6

Number of commercial TV stations                                   5

Number of radio stations (total)                                 303

Number of commercial radio stations                              302

Number of newspapers (total)                                     365

Number of daily newspapers                                        42

Number of free newspapers                                        323

Number of magazines (total)                                      650

Number of consumer magazines                                      50

NET REACH (April 95)                Adults(%)    Men(%)    Women(%)

Television (daily)                  76           76        76

Radio (weekly)                      94           95        94

Newspapers (weekly)*                96           97        95

Consumer magazines (weekly)*        99           98        99

Cinema (monthly)                    25           25        25

*Relates to weekly reach of all publications not reach of weekly


Source: Gallup DRB index, first quarter 1995, Carat



Norway  Factfile


TOTAL POPULATION                                           4,324,000

ADULT POPULATION (13+)                                     3,595,000

Number of TV stations (total)                                      7

Number of commercial TV stations                                   6

Number of radio stations (total)                                 390

Number of commercial radio stations                              150

Number of newspapers (total)                                     200

Number of daily newspapers                                       152

Number of free newspapers                                         50

Number of magazines (total)*                                   1,067

Number of consumer magazines*                                    347

*Figures for 1994

NET REACH (April 1995)              Adults(%)    Men(%)    Women(%)

Television (daily)                  72           72        72

Radio (weekly)                      91           92.5      90

Newspapers (daily)*                 87.5         90.2      84.9

Consumer magazines (daily)*         91           90.4      91.6

Cinema (monthly)                    20.7         21.5      19.9

*Relates to daily reach of all publications not reach of daily


Sources: Aviskatalogen 1995 (NAL), Landslaget for Lokalaviser (LLA), MMI

TV-meter Panel Arsrapport 1994, Carat



Sweden factfile


TOTAL POPULATION                                           8,745,109

ADULT POPULATION (15+)                                     7,109,591

Number of TV stations                                              7

Number of commercial TV stations                                   5

Number of radio stations (total)                              +/-260

Number of commercial radio stations=/-                            80

Number of newspapers (total)                                     175

Number of daily newspapers                                      ^117

Number of free newspapers                                          0

Number of magazines (total)                                    1,500

Number of consumer magazines                                     200

Note: =/- 150 stations are low-power community stations

^ at least three times a week

NET REACH (APRIL 1995)              Adults(%)    Men(%)    Women(%)

Television (daily)                  85           87        84

Radio (weekly)                      96           97        96

Newspapers (weekly)*                92           92        92

Consumer magazines (weekly)*        65           56        74

Cinema (monthly)                    25           24        25

*Relates to weekly reach of all publications not reach of weekly


Source: Nordicoom - Sveriges Mediebarometer, Carat


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