Media of Sweden

Media of Sweden

Swedish media has a long tradition going back to the 1776 law enacting freedom of the press.

The press is subsidized by the government and is owned by many actors, the dominant owner being Bonnier AB. Swedish TV and Radio was until the mid 1980s a government monopoly, which slowly has been eroded despite resistance, e.g. a call for prohibition of private ownership of satellite dish receivers.

Public service media is financed by a special fee (tax) levied on all who own a TV or Radio receiver. Reporting ownership is voluntary, but TV sellers are obliged to report purchase to the government, and the government also has a special service of agents, with equipment capable of detecting tell-tale emissions from TV-receivers, who patrols residential areas in order to catch those who have not reported ownership of a receiver.

Swedish media has mechanisms for self regulation, such as the Swedish Press Council.



The Swedish press is subsidized by the government through Press support. Originally this was directly distributed through the political parties to their supporting newspapers, but nowadays subsidies are more direct in form, and are tied to certain requirements, e.g. a minimum of 2000 subscribers. Support also exists in indirect form in the shape of partial tax-exceptions.

The Swedish Press is self-regulated through the Public Press Ombudsman, or Allmänhetens Pressombudsman and the Swedish Press Council, or Pressens Opinionsnämnd. One example of this is that Swedish media follow a principle of not disclosing the identities of suspected criminals. There was some controversy when Dagens Nyheter on 27 September 2003 published the name and picture of Mijailo Mijailović, who was the suspected assassin of Swedish foreign minister Anna Lindh.

Freedom of the press in Sweden dates back to 1766 when it was enshrined in a law enacted by the Riksdag of the Estates. It is today a part of the Constitution of Sweden.

The Swedish newspaper with the widest circulation is the evening newspaper Aftonbladet, controlled by the Norwegian media conglomerate Schibsted (majority holder) and the Swedish Trade Union Confederation. Its competitor, Expressen, is controlled by Bonnier AB and has sister editions in Gothenburg (GT) and Malmö (Kvällsposten). Bonnier AB also controls the major national morning newspaper, Dagens Nyheter. Its Stockholm competitor Svenska Dagbladet is owned by Schibsted. Göteborgs-Posten is the major regional newspaper in Gothenburg and the west of Sweden, while another Bonnier-owned newspaper, Sydsvenska Dagbladet, dominates in Malmö and the south. Bonnier AB also owns Sweden's major business newspaper, Dagens Industri. The Local is one of the few English language general news websites in the country.

Through its subsidiary Bonnier Tidskrifter AB, Bonnier AB also controls many of Sweden's most popular magazines, such as Amelia, Allt om Mat, Teknikens Värld and the business magazine Veckans Affärer. Other major magazine publishers in Sweden are Allers förlag, the Danish-controlled Egmont and the French Hachette Filipacchi Médias.

Sweden also has many large organizations which almost all produce membership magazines with a wide readership. The biggest ones, with readership figures above 300 000, include Vår Bostad (published by the Union of Tenants and HSB, a cooperative building society), PRO-pensionären (published by the Pensioners’ National Organization) and the magazines of the largest trade unions: Kommunalarbetaren (published by the Municipal Workers' Union), Siftidningen (published by the Union of Clerical and Technical Employees in Industry) and Dagens Arbete (published jointly by the Metalworkers' Union, the Industrial Union, the Graphic Workers' Union, the Paper Workers' Union and the Forest and Wood Workers' Union).


Main article: Television in Sweden

Television trials from the Royal Institute of Technology started in 1954. Broadcasts officially started in 1956. The broadcasts were made by the public broadcaster Sveriges Radio. When a second channel, TV2, started in 1969 it was broadcast by the same company, but the two channels were supposed to compete against each other. Since SR was split into four different companies in the late 70s, the television broadcasting has been the responsibility of Sveriges Television (SVT).

SVT and its two channels dominated television for a long time. In 1987 the first commercial channel, TV3 was started, broadcasting from London via satellite. In connection with the loosening up of the State media monopoly there was a debate regarding how to preserve the media monopoly, with Social Democratic parliamentarian Maj Britt Theorin proposing that private ownership of satellite dishes be prohibited in Sweden.

In the early 1990s, TV4 became the first commercial channel to be allowed to join the national terrestrial broadcasting network, run by Teracom. Sveriges Television is funded by a fee -- fixed by Parliament and collected by the Kiruna-based Receiving Licence Agency, Radiotjänst i Kiruna AB -- and is regulated, together with TV4, by the Swedish Broadcasting Commission.

Sweden was an early adopter of digital terrestrial television, officially launching it in April 1999. The analogue shutdown of the SVT and TV4 signals started in September 2005 and was completed in late 2007.

Four companies and five channels dominate the Swedish television viewing:

The prospect of the digital shutdown has caused SVT and TV4 to start several new channels. SVT have SVT24, SVTB and Kunskapskanalen. TV4 have started lots of channels, including TV4 Plus, TV4 Film, TV400 and TV4 Fakta. Channels owned by Viasat include TV6 and TV8. Other channels such as Eurosport, Discovery Channel, MTV Sweden and Disney Channel Scandinavia also have a relatively strong position in Sweden.

Two dominating networks of premium content exists: TV1000 and Viasat Sport, owned by Viasat, and C More Entertainment owned by TV4 Gruppen (using the Canal+ brand).

The main pay television distributors are: Com Hem (cable), Boxer (terrestrial), Viasat (satellite) and Canal Digital (satellite). There are also several smaller cable networks, most notably Tele2Vision and Telia Digital-tv. As of 2006, it is estimated that 50 percent of the households receive their television signals from a cable network, 30 percent from a regular aerial and 20 percent using a satellite dish.[1]


National radio is dominated by public service company Sveriges Radio (SR), which is funded through the same fee that is collected for television sets. The sale of commercial radio licenses began in the early 1990s, though commercial radio existed before this through local stations in the larger cities (närradio).

SR have four national channels: P1, P2, P3 and P4. P4 is a regional network where 25 stations broadcast locally for much of the day.

There exists two systems for private radio: community radio (närradio) and local commercial radio (PLR, privat lokalradio).

When the PLR licenses were auctioned in the early 1990s several different local stations appeared. The licencees would consolidate over the years and in 2006 almost all licenses were owned by Modern Times Group or SBS Broadcasting Group, since SBS bought Fria Media in February 2006.

Most stations are part of a network, the two largest being Rix FM (36 stations, MTG) and Mix Megapol (24 stations, SBS), both using AC-formats. Three other networks exist: The Soft AC network Lugna Favoriter (12 stations, MTG) and two CHR networks, only existing in the three major cities: The Voice (SBS) and NRJ (MTG).

Journalist bias

Media in Sweden is often criticized of being biased towards the political left. The Department of Journalism and Mass Communication (JMG) at Gothenburg University has conducted yearly surveys regarding their political party sympathies among the members of the Swedish Union of Journalists (Swedish: Journalistförbundet), the largest trade union organizing journalists in Sweden. The latest survey, conducted in late 1999, has shown a significant higher percentage of support for the centre-left political parties (mainly the Left Party and the Green Party) compared to these parties' support amongst the general Swedish population.[2] 31 percent of the journalists favoured the Left Party, compared to 15 percent of the general population. All the previous surveys has shown similar results.

As regards to foreign policy issues, Swedish media has often been criticized of reporting biased towards the United States/the Bush administration, and towards Israel in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. A debate was sparked in 2004 when the Sveriges Radio correspondent in the United States, Cecilia Uddén, who was reporting from the 2004 presidential election, said during a live radio debate:

I don't think either that Swedish media have any requirement whatsoever regarding fairness when it comes to the U.S. election. We have no reason to be fair and present both sides views as we would have done in a Swedish election.
(Swedish: "Jag tycker heller inte att svenska medier har något som helst krav på sig på opartiskhet när det gäller valet i USA. Vi har ju ingen anledning att vara opartiska och redovisa båda ståndpunkter på samma sätt som vi skulle göra i ett svenskt val.")

After this statement Uddén was put into quarantine by the management of Sveriges Radio for the rest of the U.S. election.[3] Uddén is currently the correspondent for Sveriges Radio in the Middle East. Regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Uddén has stated in an interview that "in order to be able to describe the conflict honestly you have to side with the weaker part [i.e. the Palestinians]" (Swedish: "För att kunna beskriva konflikten ärligt måste man ta part med den svagare sidan.")[4]

It is also important to take into consideration, that many outlets are owned by corporations, therefore while the worker may have a 'left' political view, the owner and/or editor of the outlet may have a 'conservative' or pro-business one.

Ideological and political bias in reporting

The reporting in Swedish media has sometimes, by journalists, been accused of bias and cover-ups, in particular as regards Swedish immigration policy and the societal and financial costs associated with it.[5] Criticism has focused on accusations that those in the media who shape public opinion often do this based on ideological constructs and exhibit a lack of awareness of current societal problems, often pointing to the fact that journalists and editors predominantly reside in segregated low-risk upper middle-class areas.[5] Well-known Swedish journalists have echoed criticism regarding cover-ups, with Janne Josefsson calling it "one of the worst betrayals we journalists have made ourselves guilty of"("ett av de värsta sveken vi journalister gjort oss skyldiga till").[6] He also notes that critics were unjustifiably silenced through racism allegations.[7] A former high-profile News-presenter of the Swedish State Television resigned her position and made a public statement that she did so due to the bias in State TV news-reporting and the belittling and racism accusations launched at critics.[8]

Charges have also been made by journalists that the State Media are politically biased through direct political control, predominantly by the Social Democratic party. Accusations have been made that it has been long-term party policy to fill strategically important positions in the public-service media with persons loyal to the party.[9] This has resulted in media-reporting being susceptible to being directed by political considerations.[10]


See also


  1. ^ Medieutveckling 2006, Swedish Radio and TV Authority, ISBN 91-85229-10-5.
  2. ^ a b c Asp, Kent (2000) (in Swedish) (PDF). Journalisternas partisympatier 2000. Department of Journalism and Mass Communication (JMG), Gothenburg University. Archived from the original on December 9, 2006. Retrieved 2007-01-11. 
  3. ^ Roos, Cecilia & Forssblad, Mari (2004-10-27). "Karantän efter kontroversiellt uttalande" (in Swedish). Sveriges Radio - Ekot. Retrieved 2007-01-11. 
  4. ^ Wahlström, Johannes (2005). "Israels regim styr svenska medier" (– Scholar search). Ordfront magasin (12). Archived from the original on September 11, 2006. Retrieved 2007-01-11. [dead link]
  5. ^ a b "Journalisterna mörklägger sanningen om invandrarna", DN, Publicerat 2008-04-08"
  6. ^ 2010-05-16, Swedish Radio documentary "Tensta ligger mitt i Sverige",URL
  7. ^ Mannen bakom avslöjandena HD 10-02-2008, "vi stämplade rasist i pannan på de som protesterade"
  8. ^ Elisabet Höglund: Därför slutade jag på Aktuellt DN, 10 november 2008
  9. ^ (S)veriges ofria television Svenska Dagbladet, Publicerad: 6 april 2005
  10. ^ I STATENS OCH PARTIETS TJÄNST Svensk public service under 80 år

External links

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