Proposals for public service broadcasting remit 2020–2029
Public service activities on digital platforms should be clarified and public service companies become more important for local journalism in less covered areas, as proposed by the Swedish Public Service Committee in its final report.
Public service broadcasting in Sweden is carried out by three companies: Sveriges Radio (SR), Sveriges Television (SVT), and Utbildningsradion (UR).
In June a committee of inquiry on public service broadcasting, made up of representatives of all parties in the Swedish parliament, released its proposal for an update of the public service remit for the new period 2020–2029. The following are the main proposals in the final report.
The core business is audio and audiovisual
The current structure of public service broadcasting – its licenses, terms and conditions – should mainly consist in the coming period. The companies SR, UR and SVT should concentrate their business on their core competencies; that is, audio and audiovisual content. In particular, SVT’s and SR’s news activities should be concentrated on sound and moving images. The purpose of this emphasis is to clarify how companies’ activities and investments on the Internet should be pursued in order to not compete with commercial media carrying out journalism.
Clarification of the business in pending technologically neutral regulation
Public service will continue to reach 99.8% of the population via broadcasting in the terrestrial network. Radio and television programmes on the companies’ digital platforms should be freely available on open parts of the Internet. The companies should continue to develop these platforms to make their programming available on-demand.
Use social media to interact with the audience
The Committee also believes that social media and global distribution platforms should be used to inform about the companies’' offerings and to interact with the public. Companies should not publish material exclusively for such platforms, especially if it means users have to sign up to access public service content. Exceptions are only possible if they are deemed necessary to reach a particular audience when their own platforms do not have this reach.
Public service should strengthen local news service
It is important to maintain the trust in public service media, and the task of reflecting the whole country and variations in the population is especially important. The Committee also points out that the aim of the programming should focus on community needs that commercial companies cannot meet.
Several reports have pointed out a reduced journalistic presence in, and monitoring of, many Swedish municipalities. In order to increase local news media diversity, public services should strengthen journalism in blank spots throughout the country. The investigation also opens for more collaboration between public service and commercial media in local markets.
Pre-trial for supplementary activities
During the 21st century, the pre-testing of new services developed by public service companies has been a recurring issue. The Committee states that ex ante testing does not apply to the core business of public service companies, but should only be used to test complementary activities.
Programme companies’ funding stable
It is proposed that in 2020, public service companies be allocated more than 8.5 billion kronor, which is in line with how much the companies usually get. As in the previous period, the average allocation would continue to increase by 2 per cent per annum and company.
The Government has previously proposed that the current radio and television licence fee, paid by all households with a television, be replaced by a public service fee that is individual. This public service fee would be paid by everyone who is aged 18 or over and has taxable earned income. The parliament will vote on this proposal in the autumn.
Much of the public service mission remains
There is great parliamentary agreement on the investigation’s proposals, and few changes have been made to the assignments. Matters such as broad content assignments, mirroring and production from across the country, minority programmes, accessibility, film production, and sponsorship remain unchanged. It is proposed that news broadcasts in foreign languages will continue to be handled by Sveriges Radio.
The proposal [in Swedish only]: SOU 2018:50 Ett oberoende public service för alla – nya möjligheter och ökat ansvar
Parliament decision: On November 14, 2018, the Riksdag (the Swedish Parliament) decided on a new law on the financing of public service radio and television, following the proposals from the Government. The decision means, among other things, that the radio and television licence fee, paid by all households with a television, is replaced by a public service fee that is individual. The new law and other legislative amendments will apply on January 1, 2019.
Find the new law: Lag (2018:1893) om finansering av radio och tv i allmänhetens tjänst
Read the Committee on Culture's report and the Riksdag's decision (in Swedish) [EH]