Broadcasting history in Sweden

Since the mid-1920s radio and, eventually television, broadcasting in Sweden has been conducted by a monopoly enterprise, the Swedish Broadcasting Corporation. In 1925 broadcasting of radio programmes started and in 1956 time had come for television. During the last decades broadcasting in Sweden has undergone extensive changes.

The monopoly situation is now long gone. Several hundreds of channels can be seen and heard. This change started to take place in the beginning of 1990. A private, commercial television channel, TV4, was granted a licence from the Swedish Government to conduct terrestrial TV-transmissions in Sweden in 1991. At that time several satellite channels also had become available to the Swedish audience - among others the Swedish commercial TV3 -and in 1992 private commercial cable transmissions were allowed.

The former enterprise Swedish Broadcasting Corporation is today split up into three totally independent programme companies, each one with a mission to conduct public service broadcasts: Sveriges Television, Sveriges Radio and the Swedish Educational Broadcasting company, Sveriges Utbildningsradio, transmitting radio and television educational programmes in the SVT and SR channels.

The public service programme activities of these companies are financed from television receiver licence revenues. The licence fee is decided by the parliament.

The broadcasting companies each carry out their tasks with full independency, integrity and responsibility. The shares of the companies are owned by an independent public foundation, the board of which is appointed by the Government after consultations with the parliamentary parties.

This foundation, however, has no influence on the programming, and its´ possibilities to influence the organizing and maintaining of the broadcasting companies are very limited by a framework of laws and regulations.

The main purpose of the public foundation is to serve as a buffer between the powers of state and the programme companies, so that these can work independently of the state and of different pressure groups and interests in the society.

The programme content is very well protected. Not even the members of the boards of the companies can interfere with the programme content. That is entirely up to the companies and their directors.

The overall guidelines for radio and television in Sweden are drawn up by Parliament. They are formalized in the Radio and Television Act. A specific Broadcasting Charter from the Government to each of the three programme companies entitles them to transmit television or radio programmes nationally or regionally.

As already mentioned, the Government exercises no control over programmes prior to broadcast. However, an independent Broadcasting Commission is empowered to raise objections to specific programmes - or consider complaints from the general public - after the programmes have been transmitted, if they are found to have violated the Act or the conditions of the Charter.

If found "guilty" of breaking the charter conditions the punishment is that the companies must announce this on prime time.