| 16 Aug 2019

The Government's proposal for Swedish public service media 2020-2025

The Swedish public service media companies should be up to date and in close connection to the audience. They are also a common good that should work in a media system with a free and functioning commercial media market.

This is what the Swedish Minister of Culture, Amanda Lind, said in June 2019 when she presented the Government's proposal on the conditions for a new broadcasting remit for the public service media companies Sveriges Radio (SR), Sveriges Television (SVT) and Utbildningsradion (UR).

The conditions for the public service media rarely undergo drastic changes from one permit period to the next. In the upcoming period (2020–2025) the most noticeable change, in the eye of the Swedish public, lies within another decision from January 2019, when a new model for the collection of funding of the public service media was launched.

Need for technology-neutral regulation  In accordance with a previous parliamentary inquiry (June 2018), the current proposal points to the need for a technology-neutral regulation for the public service media companies. This is not possible today, however, as the constitution does not allow it. The Government has appointed an inquiry on constitutional reform, which is also working on a solution to allow for technology-neutral public service media. In the fall of 2020, the constitutional inquiry’s conclusions will be presented.

In the meantime, the current proposal suggests that the public service media companies be able to include the content they publish online when they give their yearly accounts regarding their implementation of the various demands on their content output.

Digital platforms Although public service media companies should prioritise content dissemination on their own digital platforms, there are certain exceptions that allow them to meet the requirement of reaching their audience.

A broad content assignment  The proposal suggests that public service media continue with its broad content assignment, as well as the assignment to reflect the whole of Sweden – i.e., public service media content should reflect Sweden's population, for example with regard to geography, ethnicity, age, and gender. In their capacity as large media content purchasers, SR and SVT should also strengthen the production market throughout the country.

SR and SVT should also strengthen their news coverage, especially journalism in ‘blank spots’, i.e. municipalities that lack news coverage. At the same time, the public service media companies must consider commercial local media’s opportunities to operate in the local market. Like the inquiry, the Government’s proposal states that SR and SVT should focus on audio and audiovisual content. The Minister of Culture clarified that written text will not be banned, but ought to be regarded as a complement to audio and visual content, especially as a support for persons with disabilities. However, the text-based communication must not be the primary one.

Broadcasters' funds will increase by 2 per cent each year during the period. In addition, SEK 166 million per annum will be distributed among the companies. This sum corresponds to the cost for Radiotjänst i Kiruna, which previously collected the radio and TV fee but was closed down in 2019.

The proposed permit period runs from January 1, 2020 to December 31, 2025. Parliament will decide on the bill during the fall of 2019.

Read the proposal on a new public service broadcasting period (in Swedish only).

Read the parliamentary inquiry on a new public service broadcasting period (in Swedish only) or, read a brief summary of the inquiry, written by Nordicom: Proposals for public service broadcasting remit 2020–2029 (in English)

---

ULRIKA FACHT