The Danish media market has two strong public broadcasters (DR and TV2) and several successful commercial brands which receive an annual public subsidy. Commercial news organisations are facing increasing prices for newsprint, falls in print subscribers and advertising revenue, growing inflation, and new pay deals with journalist and other staff unions (March 2023) and have responded by cutting costs and laying off staff.
The gathering financial pressures on commercial media have taken their toll in the past year. The national tabloid paper BT, founded in 1916, closed its print version in January 2023. This reflected increased newsprint costs and falling print revenues and followed an unsuccessful attempt at opening local online news services in four provincial cities, leading to the loss of 32 journalistic jobs. BT’s online business model combines advertising with data gathered from user registrations. The other leading tabloid, Ekstra Bladet, went through a major upheaval in 2022, replacing all the top editors. But with the closure of BT’s paper it has faced less competition in print, and has seen its lead over BT online increase (from 4 to 6 percentage points), according to our survey respondents.
Most commercial news websites have paywalls with only limited content freely available and our survey respondents reported a relatively high rate of paying for news online (19%). Digital subscription prices for broadsheet sites were already quite high. However, increasing costs mean some news organisations are reluctantly increasing subscription rates by 5–10% in early 2023.
Observers were underwhelmed by the media policy deal agreed in May 2022 by the social-democratic government, accusing it of being pretty much business-as-usual and lacking in a vision to address the wider digital challenges. The most dramatic change was to the Danish subsidy system on which many titles depend for survival: in 2022 state subsidies totalled €54m awarded to 76 recipients. The new system will impose a ceiling on the amount received by the big conglomerates – which will hit JP/Politiken (Jylands-Posten, Politiken, Ekstra Bladet) and Berlingske (Berlingske, Weekendavisen, BT) hardest – alongside a commitment to increase subsidies to local and regional newspapers.
From the perspective of commercial operators, the proposed 6% levy on streaming services’ annual turnover looks more positive but it is unclear how this will be implemented. The Alliance of Danish Press Organisations, which started collective negotiations with tech giants about payment for news content in 2021, has landed two deals, with Microsoft and the Upday news app.
The digital activities of publicly funded broadcaster DR are set for a radical turn following its new 2025 Strategy, which redirects significant funding from its flagship linear channel DR1 to the digital news platform dr.dk, the audio platform DR Lyd, and the cross-media youth platform DR Ung. Similarly, the commercial public service operator TV2 has closed its youth-targeted linear channel TV2 ZULU, in order to revamp its online offers to 20–30-year-olds under the Echo brand across platforms. The 24/7 news channel TV2 News will become the new hub for all TV2’s news services across platforms.
Public broadcasters’ digital developments have exacerbated tensions with commercial operators, and the Association of Danish Media has filed a complaint to the European Commission, accusing DR of unfair competition, because of its free offer of the dr.dk news service and the DR news app.
Streaming has already overtaken broadcast TV in terms of numbers watching. Danes subscribe on average to four streaming services. DR and TV2 are responding by investing in their own streaming services. It seems to be paying off. Netflix tops the list (58% say they have used it at least once in the last year), but DR.TV (52%) and TV2 Play (40%) are not far behind.
Facebook is losing ground. TikTok experienced a breakthrough during the general election campaign, when some politicians’ memes and humorous campaign videos succeeded with teen audiences. TV2 Echo, Ekstra Bladet, and Zetland all publish news videos on TikTok.
It was a breakthrough year for podcasts in Denmark in 2022. Commercial operators are rushing to invest, with many (Bauer Media; regional publishing conglomerate JFM) expanding their podcast portfolios. TV2 has a daily news podcast and two weekly themed podcasts, and DR is increasing its already substantial offering in the hope of building greater listener loyalty. Our survey shows public broadcaster DR produced more than half (51%) of the news-related podcasts mentioned by respondents. It also produces the most successful news podcast, Genstart, a narrative-driven, single-subject deep-dive modelled on The Daily from the New York Times (see more in Section 1.5: News Podcasts: Who is Listening and What Formats are Working?).
Kim Christian Schrøder, Mark Blach-Ørsten, and Mads Kæmsgaard Eberholst
Roskilde University, Denmark
Changes in news sources’ offline and online reach are very small this year, although regional TV has dropped by 6pp, with the tabloid Ekstra Bladet gaining 3pp. TV and print sources, and news from social media, continue their slow decline.
Pay for online news
Listen to podcast in the last month
Trust in news overall
Trust in news I use
Trust in news media remains relatively high in Denmark at 57%. Brand trust scores remain at similar levels to previous years, with the exception of digital-born Zetland (+8pp), presumably due to increasing brand knowledge among news users. Public service news brands score high, while tabloids BT and Ekstra Bladet remain lower.