Swedish government wants more diversity in the radio sector
In Sweden, commercial radio permits refer to local broadcasting areas. Nevertheless, over time large radio networks have been created, with MTG and Bauer Media as the current dominating players. The Swedish government has now proposed allowing larger broadcasting areas, in order to promote diversity and competition in the radio field.
[This article was updated in September 2017 - see the end of the text.]
When commercial radio was introduced in Sweden in 1993, only concessions for local broadcasting areas were issued. The idea was to create a radio market with locally based and independent radio broadcasters, but the development soon took the opposite direction.
As it was difficult to generate a good income based on small broadcasting areas, the licence holders created networks to give their advertising a larger market, which resulted in increasing market concentration. At the end of 2015, MTG Radio and Bauer Media Group together controlled all of Sweden's 103 broadcasting permits.
A new Government Bill on commercial radio now suggests that the Swedish Press and Broadcasting Authority - which issues the radio licences - should no longer need to take into account local boundaries, but should instead regard competition and diversity on the radio market as a whole. It is hoped that, with larger broadcasting areas, more players will be able to benefit from a profitable commercial radio business.
The government also proposes a change to the rules regarding how many permits an operator can hold per area, and to the rules for the transfer and revocation of licences. The aim is to prevent individual players from having too much influence on the radio market to the detriment of competition and diversity.
The proposals are expected to enter into force on 1 August 2017. The new licence period begins a year later, and will run for eight years.
Government Bill 2016:17:136: Vissa frågor om kommersiell radio [Some issues of commercial radio]
The Press and Broadcasting Authority’s reports on the Swedish media development (in English and Swedish)
UPDATE in September 2017: New licences for commercial radio
In August, the Swedish Press and Broadcasting Authority announced new commercial radio licences, based on the changes to the Radio and Television Act, which came into force on 1 August, 2017. Read the Authority's strategy for licensing for analogue commercial radio 2018-2026, available in English. Press release 20.08.2017 from the Swedish Press and Broadcasting Authority
Find Swedish/Nordic radio statistics: Nordicom’s table database provides Nordic overviews of the major radio players, stations and radio listening in English. Moreover, there are overviews of the Swedish radio market and radio listening in Swedish.