Fritt Ord (organization)

Fritt Ord logo.png
Fritt Ord is a Norwegian private foundation, whose aim is to support freedom of expression and a free press. It was established on 7 June 1974 by Narvesen Kioskkompani's leaders Jens Henrik Nordlie and Finn Skedsmo as well as the lawyer Jens Christian Hauge.

Fritt Ord has significant funds and is playing a part in supporting various projects in Norway, as investing in the newspaper Morgenbladet, supporting an encyclopedia (Store Norske Leksikon) and holding a 10.1% ownership in the media group A-Pressen. In addition it awards scholarships to students within media and journalism, awards the Fritt Ord Prize, and supports writing competitions. It has also provided funding for controversial projects, e.g. an upcoming book written by the blogger Fjordman, who calls for the deportation of all Muslims from Europe.

The organization awards three annual prizes to support freedom of speech; the Fritt Ord Award (Norwegian: Fritt Ords pris), the Fritt Ord Honorary Award (Norwegian: Fritt Ords honnør) and the Press Prizes for Russia and Eastern Europe (Norwegian: Pressepriser for Russland og Øst-Europa). Those prizes not to be confused with "Ytringsfrihetsprisen", the annual Freedom of Expression Prize awarded mostly to international writers by the Norwegian Authors' Union.

The owners of the kiosk chain Narvesen wanted to transform his chain of newspaper and magazine retailers to an institution, and on 1 January 1975 the company was taken over by the newly created foundation Fritt Ord at the same time it merged with the Norwegian State Railways (NSB) company Norsk Spisevognselskap, who offered services within catering to the railway. Fritt Ord got 59% ownership in the newly formed company while NSB got 41% ownership.

The dividends from the company made it possible for Fritt Ord to perform a number of tasks related to freedom of expression, including support for the Institute of Journalism and the Freedom of Expression Prize as well as a number of grants to numerous persons and institutions, domestically and internationally.

In 1995 NSB sold its shares in Narvesen and the company was listed on Oslo Stock Exchange. As a result of this Fritt Ord reduced its ownership in Narvesen to 34% in 1999 and in 2000 Narvesen was merged with Reitangruppen to form ReitanNarvesen. In 2001 Fritt Ord sold its ownership in the company to the Reitan Family. As a result of the capital freed from the sale of Narvesen, Fritt Ord has acquired holdings in Morgenbladet (30,5%) and A-Pressen (10,1%).

This page was last edited on 23 February 2018, at 23:48.
Reference: under CC BY-SA license.

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