[NO] Media Liability Act enters into force

IRIS 2020-8:1/2

Gudbrand Guthus

Norwegian Media Authority

In May 2020, the Storting (Norwegian Parliament) unanimously passed the Act relating to editorial independence and liability of editor-controlled journalistic media, medieansvarsloven (Media Liability Act). The act entered into force on 1 July 2020. It updates and gathers special rules on liability in the media field and introduces new legislative provisions. The former mediefridomslova (Editorial Independence Act) is repealed from the entry into force of the new act.

The legislative process followed up on the report of the Medieansvarsutvalget (Media Liability Commission) on freedom of expression and liability in a new media reality, released in 2011.

The purpose of the act is to facilitate open, informed public discourse by ensuring editorial independence and establishing clear liability regulation for content published in editor-controlled journalistic media. This is in line with the so-called infrastructure requirement (infrastrukturkravet ) in Article 100 of the Norwegian Constitution, which establishes that conditions should be created to facilitate open and enlightened public discussion.

The act is technology neutral and applies to media engaged in regular journalistic production and the dissemination of news, current affairs and issues of debate to the public. The act does not apply to media whose primary activities are advertising or marketing. Nor does it apply to news agencies. However, while adopting the act, the parliament requested a report from the government regarding a possible extension of the scope to cover news agencies disseminating quality-controlled content. 

The act states that the medium's owner or publisher shall appoint an editor, who shall lead the medium’s editorial activities and make editorial decisions within the framework of the medium’s stated values and purpose. However, the owner or publisher may not issue instructions relating to that editor’s decisions and may not demand the right to review or preview material prior to general publication.

The editor shall ensure that user-generated content is clearly separated from editorial content in the medium and is clearly identified. When the medium has rules applicable to user-generated content, the editor shall provide information on the rules and how they are enforced.  The editor shall facilitate the notification of unlawful content.


This article has been published in IRIS Legal Observations of the European Audiovisual Observatory.