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Government cuts multilingual diversity

Published on Monday, 13th October, 2014 at 12:20 under the news category, by Michael Sandelson   .
Last Updated on 13th October 2014 at 12:40.

As Press incomes and staff numbers fall, the Norwegian Rightist coalition trims funding to non-Norwegian language media.

Norwegian flag over Bergen
Norwegian flag over Bergen
Photo: alex-s/Flickr

The recent draft National Budget 2015 proposal contained many different types of cuts. Taxes, fur farms, long-term sickness benefits, tourism industry, and broadband development support are some.

Linguistic diversity in the media has also been a focus area for Centre-Left governments in the past, ensuring that people whose first language is not Norwegian could remain informed about current affairs.

In order to maintain this, so-termed minority language media (printed and radio) have been able to apply for financial support through the Norwegian Media Authority (Medietilsynet). This totalled 875,000 kroner for 2013.

Languages covered include Chinese, Urdu, Hindi, Turkish, Bosnian, Icelandic, and Polish. Foreigners comprised 14 per cent of Norway’s population of 5.1 million as of 1st January 2014. (Statistics Norway (SSB) does not carry out statistical surveys as to population numbers based on language(s)).

Sami is also considered a minority language – Bokmål and Nynorsk are the two different written forms of Norwegian.

Article 108 (previously 110a) of the Norwegian Constitution states that “it is the responsibility of the authorities of the State to create conditions enabling the Sami people to preserve and develop its language, culture and way of life.”

President of the Sami Parliament Aili Keskitalo fears for the future.

“The Sami papers are completely dependent on proper press subsidies. I’m extremely concerned and fear for the consequences for watchdog journalism, freedom of expression, and the good Sami public debate,” he told Vårt Land, Monday.

The 24 million kroner allocated is proposed cut by 4.1 million. Most goes to national dailies Ávvir (printed in Northern Sámidavvisámegiella) and Ságat (in which most of the articles are now printed in Norwegian).

Lokalavisa NordSalten (printed mainly in Norwegian, but with some content written in Lule Sami (julevsámegiella)) and Snåsingen (printed in Southern Sami (Åarjelsaemien gïele)) are the other two government-supported publications.

The present coalition is a minority government, and parliament has to pass the draft national budget proposal.