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Norwegian Television History on Europeana

Guest post by Mari Skarnes and Maja Wettmark, archive developers at the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation (NRK).

NRK Archive
The NRK Archive is responsible for the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation’s archive collection. It holds radio and television programmes from the 1930s onwards. A government decision from 2007 obliged the public broadcaster to make all of its historical content available to the public, as long as this was covered by the programme’s legal rights. All programmes, with their accompanying metadata, have since been published on NRK’s web players and In order to ensure availability to a wider audience, NRK Archive aims to share most of the transmissions’ metadata with stakeholders outside of the country’s borders as well. We do so based on the idea that the metadata describing the productions holds a high cultural heritage value, and because we see the importance of reusing cultural metadata as open data. With help from the EUscreen network, we recently published two of our collections to Europeana: the television drama collection Fjernsynsteatret and the newsreel collection Filmavisen.

Mapping Fjernsynsteatret’s Metadata Journey
Fjernsynsteatret is a unique collection of almost 600 episodes of television drama, broadcast in Norway between 1960 and 1996. The productions are based on famous works by Norwegian authors, such as Ibsen, Undset, and Fosse as well as foreign authors like Sartre, Kafka, Strindberg and Dostojevskij. It also includes plays by contemporary dramatists and authors. We considered the series Fjernsynsteatret highly relevant for publication. Despite the fact that the broadcasts are in Norwegian, many of the plays are well known throughout the world. We found them to be of interest to European audiences as the content is of a high production quality, has rich metadata and the names of the authors and actors can be linked to other collections in Europeana.

The drama series is published on our webplayer. Here is one example from the collection:

NRK has an internal data model based on the European Broadcasting Union’s EBUCore standard, which is an excellent basis for the exchange, as the EUscreen pipeline has been built to support EBUCore and maps nicely to Europeana’s Data Model (EDM). In order to provide the metadata for this series to Europeana, however, we couldn’t export information from our internal catalogue. Our internal systems don’t provide a stable link (or URI) that refers back to the described object on NRK’s websites. We do make use of URIs for our published items, but they are only available through our on-demand service and its RESTful API.

As this API contains all the metadata fields that Europeana requires, and even many more, we decided to export from the API, which gave us all the metadata we needed in JSON format. Some of the metadata fields in that export hold fields that do not automatically match those used in EDM. We used EUscreen’s MINT tool to map those fields to their proper counterparts.

Screenshot from the mapping tool in MINT

Mapping NRK’s metadata to EDM in MINT makes NRK’s metadata accessible in new metadata fields that are structured in alignment with Europeana’s data model. This way we can connect NRK’s metadata to all other data that exists in Europeana, and still keep its meaning intact. When we compare the original meaning of the metadata values with the meaning they obtain in EDM, we see that they keep their semantics through the process – which shows us that the mapping was successful.

On the Europeana portal a record of a typical Fjernsynsteatret broadcast looks like this:

The play “Det er fra politiet” in the Europeana portal

Tweaking the Mapping to reflect Filmavisen’s Richer Metadata
Recently we published another TV series called Filmavisen, which is a collection of 1.000 newsreel transmissions from 1941 to 1963. Filmavisen shows special events and everyday situations in Norway during the German occupation and many years after the war.

We uploaded the collection using the same mapping method as described earlier. However, here each newsreel issue contains individual stories with accompanying metadata, such as places and events. To make this structure available in Europeana, we needed to tweak our existing mapping in MINT. As a result, Europeana users can now watch each chapter of the collection with richer – and easier to retrieve – metadata. Even if the spoken language used in the newsreels is Norwegian; this metadata enrichment allows our fellow Europeans to find interesting video’s by searching for names of places, people or dates. Once NRK’s ​​metadata is available in Europeana, the events described in Filmavisen can be linked to other datasets with interesting content about these places, people or dates. Connecting these items may increase the understanding of the events – we hope that at least in some cases one plus one will become three.

An example of a newsreel story from a 1953 issue of Filmavisen as displayed on Europeana

We would like to thank EUscreen for a fruitful cooperation and we are looking forward to adding more to the European cultural heritage collection in the future!

Mari Skarnes & Maja Wettmark