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Thu 23 May 2002 04:00 AM

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DAT’ll be the Danish

Danish government unveils plan to switch off analogue transmission by 2007.

The Danish government has revealed ambitious plans for the country’s media in a new bill to be published today. Under the proposal, television station TV2 is to be privatised and a rapid introduction of digital television technology (DTT) will be introduced, with the aim of switching off analogue transmissions as early as 2007.The new media franchise will run from Autumn this year until the end of 2006, with Denmark's traditional public service broadcaster, DR, also being affected. Licence revenues are to be frozen at current levels to increase competition, and a new rule is to be introduced to outsource 20% of programme production to external independent producers.Discussions on the future ownership status of TV2 have been underway for years. Many parties have expressed their dissatisfaction about the station's present status as a state-controlled foundation, financed by a mixture of advertising income and a percentage of licence fee revenues.TV2 was launched in 1988 and successfully competed with DR-1 to become the country's most watched station; it also enjoys a public service status, which its management has been strongly defending.TV2 has long argued against privatisation, but now TV2's MD, Christina Lage, comments that the government's published plans are "something our station can live with." According to government spokesmen, TV2 will be transformed from a foundation to a state-owned company, with plans to turn TV2 into a private company as soon as possible.Several interested customers are reported to be queueing up, including Egmont, Denmark's leading media group, already a 33% shareholder in Norwegian TV2 and a Major Nordic player in television production, its Norwegian rival Orkla, and the three major Danish morning newspapers, Berlingske, Politiken and Jyllands-Posten.Denmark is now far behind its Nordic neighbours in relation to DTT, but the new government bill looks set to address the problem. According to a government spokesman, a national network is to be established as soon as possible, "to offer the whole population a wider choice of programmes and other new services." A 'platform operator' function - with no operating interests - is to be auctioned off, to run the new network on 'commercial lines.' DR and TV2 will each be given space for two channels, free of charge. The remaining channels will be offered to other operators, conforming to Danish or EU specifications. Open standards are to be used, with no state subsidies allowed.

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