Danish Media Regulation – Effective but Not a Scandi Drama

In the second in our series, we talk to Sanne Oleseon at the Danish Press Council about press ethics, freedoms and handling complaints.

As IMPRESS members are introduced to the new Standards Code over the next few months it’s worth seeing how other press regulators operate around the globe. In Denmark the Government passed an Act of Parliament in 1992 to establish the present press council, Pressenaevnet. The Media Liability act is in place to ensure that press council decisions are followed, it covers print, radio, TV and the Internet - and that’s where Government involvement in Danish media regulation ends.

Sanne Oleseon, Leader of the Secretariat for Pressenaevnet said: “The council is an independent public tribunal. We try and walk a narrow path, balancing the needs of working journalists and editors to publish important stories, whilst at the same time making sure that we serve the public when the Danish Code, the Press Ethical Rules, have been breached.”

Denmark has had its media challenges in recent years and its own hacking cases. The courts have had to deal with journalists and editors who have crossed the line into criminal behaviour and prison sentences have been imposed. One recent court case involved a magazine purchasing information from an individual who had hacked into celebrities’ credit card data.

A Supreme Court judge who is supported by a lawyer and a group of two journalists, two editors and two members of the public, chairs the council. They all have a substitute and all are appointed to serve for a four year period. One person from each of the four representative groups must be present for an adjudication to take place.

If a complaint is upheld Pressenaevnet can ask for a specific placement in the publication of a correction including its size and layout. Under the Danish system web pages are able to register with the press council, under the Media Liability Act, they are then protected and become subject to the Press Ethical rules.

In 2016 the council received 156 complaints. 108 were adjudicated by the council, of which 33 were upheld. IMPRESS will publish data relating to its complaints and arbitrations in its first annual report this summer.