Media of Sweden
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The media of Sweden has a long tradition going back to the 1766 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 television and radio were until the mid-1980s a government monopoly, which slowly has been eroded despite resistance, with a call for prohibition of private ownership of satellite dish receivers.
Public service media is financed by a special fee levied on all who own a television or radio receiver. Reporting ownership is voluntary, but television sellers are obliged to report purchase to the government, and the government also has a special service of agents, with equipment capable of detecting emissions from television 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 (see Freedom of the press#Sweden_and_Finland). 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 which has been the subject of attacks by groups such as anonymous and has seen an upsurge of people complaining of censorship and bias. In recent years, Swedish state broadcaster, Sverigesradio, has been offering a wider selection of news through its website in English.
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).
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:
- SVT with SVT1 and SVT2
- TV4 Gruppen with TV4 (owned by Bonnier)
- Viasat with TV3 (owned by Modern Times Group)
- SBS Broadcasting Group with Kanal 5 (owned by ProSiebenSat.1 Media)
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.
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.
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).
Two systems exist 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 licensees 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 present in the three major cities: The Voice (SBS) and NRJ (MTG).
Media in Sweden is 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. A 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. 31 percent of the journalists favoured the Left Party, compared to 15 percent of the general population.
After the elections 2010, the researcher Kent Asp studied more than 1000 articles from Sweden's major newspapers and found a strong bias towards the political right. 43% of all articles written about the Red-Greens were negative, compared to only 27% written about the centre-right Alliance. When describing the political leaders of the two political blocks, a majority of all articles, 53% were negative in describing the Red-Green candidate Mona Sahlin, whereas only 30% of the articles about the Alliance candidate Fredrik Reinfeldt.
As regards to foreign policy issues, Swedish media has often been reporting biased towards the United States and the George W. 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. 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.")
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. There is not one national daily newspaper that is Social democratic or centre-left. One tabloid, Aftonbladet, has a social democratic editorial page.
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. 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. 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"). He also notes that critics were unjustifiably silenced through racism allegations. 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.
In April 2005, Andreas Carlgren from the Center Party published a report saying that the State Media are politically biased through direct political control, predominantly by the Social Democratic party. He accused the Social Democrats of having a long-term party policy to fill strategically important positions in the public-service media with persons loyal to the party. This has resulted in media-reporting being susceptible to being directed by political considerations.
In December 2010, the ruling Centre-Right Alliance was heavily criticized when they implemented a law that required that all new public service products needed to be pre-approved by the government before they could be approved. Mats Svegfors, the CEO of the Swedish public service radio channels called this "unconstitutional".
- Kenneth E. Olson (1966), The history makers: The press of Europe from its beginnings through 1965, Louisiana State University (LSU) Press, pp 33-49, ISBN 1125805889, ISBN 978-1125805886, ASIN B000PZN7VY.
- Medieutveckling 2006 Archived 2008-04-06 at the Wayback Machine., Swedish Radio and TV Authority, ISBN 91-85229-10-5.
- Asp, Kent (2000). "Journalisternas partisympatier 2000" (PDF) (in Swedish). Department of Journalism and Mass Communication (JMG), Gothenburg University. Archived from the original (PDF) on December 9, 2006. Retrieved 2007-01-11.
- Kent, Asp. "Starkt negativ rapportering om Mona Sahlin i Expressen". Dagens Nyheter. Retrieved 27 December 2011.
- Roos, Cecilia & Forssblad, Mari (2004-10-27). "Karantän efter kontroversiellt uttalande" (in Swedish). Sveriges Radio – Ekot. Archived from the original on 2007-03-11. Retrieved 2007-01-11.
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