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The press in Norway

Norway press graphic

Norway's 4.5 million citizens are among the world's most avid newspaper readers and can take their pick from around 220 titles. More than 85% of adults read at least one newspaper daily and an average household takes 1.5 newspapers a day.

Newspapers are published in Norway's two official languages, Bokmaal and Nynorsk, with many carrying content produced in both.

Five major regional dailies, including Aftenposten, Bergens Tidende and Adresseavisen, account for about 20% of total circulation. While they share southern Norway among themselves, the more sparsely populated north is served by the daily Nordlys. The large regional newspapers are chiefly sold by subscription and distributed by delivery staff.

Two Oslo-based tabloids, Verdens Gang and Dagbladet, are read nationally. They account for a further 20% of circulation and rely on casual sales.

Many niche papers, particularly financial ones, have recently seen an increase in circulation figures, partly at the expense of the large urban titles. Overall readership however has not seen the sharp decline experienced by European counterparts over the last decade.

A complex system of subsidies has encouraged small local papers to launch in sparsely populated areas. The payments are made to papers operating "in competition for a local market" (e.g. against a larger regional paper), or to local newspapers with very small circulations. The allocation of subsidies is not based on editorial content, and looks likely to continue under the new majority coalition government which came into power in 2005.

Some Norwegian papers were forced to close during the German occupation in World War II. Since that time, however, press freedom has been guaranteed by the constitution.

Main papers

Verdens Gang

Based: Oslo
Founded: 1945
Circulation: 344,000 (2005)
Owner: Schibsted ASA

Originally a World War II resistance publication, Verdens Gang was founded by former resistance activists and has since grown to become Norway's largest-circulation newspaper. As a morning tabloid, the paper showcases popular content and publishes an expansive sports and entertainment section favouring large colour photos and bold headlines on its front cover. It has traditionally been associated with the political left. Affectionately known as VG, it defied the trend in declining sales by breaking its own circulation record in 2003.


Dagbladet

Based: Oslo
Founded: 1869
Circulation: 162,000 (2005)
Owner: Orkla ASA (24.3%), Storebrand Insurance AS (14.5%), small shareholders

The second of the major Oslo-based tabloids, Dagbladet is independently owned and closely allied with the Liberal party. It shed its broadsheet format in 1983 and prides itself on its features and its radical journalism. In 1990 it was the first title to reintroduce a Sunday edition, and five years later it led the Norwegian market in launching an internet version.


Aftenposten

Based: Oslo
Founded: 1860
Circulation: 394,000 (2005)
Owner: Schibsted ASA
Describing itself as "independent", but also "liberal-conservative", Aftenposten is Oslo's main subscription quality daily. It publishes a national morning edition and a local afternoon edition. The circulation shows the total for the two. It outsells both of the Oslo-based tabloids locally. Its position is less strong in the regions. The newspaper has a sober layout and publishes national and international news as well as local stories. Known to its audience as "Auntie", it aims to be read by "a cross-section of the population". January 2005 saw the paper change from a broadsheet to a compact format.


Bergens Tidende

Based: Bergen
Founded: 1868
Circulation: 88,000 (2005)
Owner: Orkla Media AS (28.5%), Schibsted (24.3%), Nya Wermlands-Tidningens AB (20%), small shareholders
The biggest-selling broadsheet outside Oslo. As its news focus is largely regional and local, it is read mainly in Bergen and surrounding areas. However, it also covers international affairs and shares overseas correspondents with Adresseavisen and Stavanger Aftenblad. About 85% of its circulation is distributed to private subscribers. It has a relatively conservative editorial agenda and describes itself as "liberal and politically independent".


Adresseavisen

Based: Trondheim
Founded: 1767
Circulation: 79,000 (2005)
Owner: Schibsted ASA (31.7%)
Norway's oldest newspaper, Adresseavisen is a regional broadsheet published in the third-largest city of Trondheim. Focusing on the central region of Trondelag, it relies like the other main quality regionals on subscriptions. Adresseavisen describes itself as conservative.


Stavanger Aftenblad

Based: Stavanger
Founded: 1893
Circulation: 68,000 (2005)
Owner: Schibsted ASA (31.5%)
Another regional broadsheet, Stavanger Aftenblad caters for the southwest. For many years it was the publication of the Liberal party, but is politically independent at present. Like its equivalents around the country, its layout is relatively conservative.


Dagsavisen

Based: Oslo
Founded: 1884
Circulation: 34,000 (2005)
Owner: Stiftelsen Dagsavisen (100%)
A quality Oslo daily, Dagsavisen spent a decade as the publication of the local trade unions before being taken over by the Labour Party. However, its ties to that party have gradually diminished since the 1970s. Now independent, the newspaper sees itself as liberal with a social conscience.


Nordlys

Based: Tromso
Founded: 1902
Circulation: 28,000 (2005)
Owner: A-Pressen ASA (84.0%)
Originally a Labour Party paper, Nordlys is based in Tromso, the largest town in northern Norway. Nordlys itself has a circulation of fewer than 30,000 copies, but its sister papers in other northern Norwegian towns sell a total of 65,000 copies every day.


BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.




EUROPEAN PRESS PROFILES
 

SEE ALSO
Country profile: Norway
09 Feb 05 |  Country profiles
Timeline: Norway
06 Jul 04 |  Country profiles

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