NEWS | 15 Sep 2015

Report on public service media's impact on the Swedish media market

The role of public service media and their possible impact on the media market are debated and assessed in several Nordic countries. In a report published September 1, the Swedish Broadcasting Authority's concludes that public service media do not act in a way that clearly disrupts the commercial market.

In a new report, the Swedish Broadcasting Authority presents the results of two assessments: the impact of public service companies’ operations on the media market, and the system of public service value tests.

Positive and negative impact
According to the report, public service media affect the media market both positively and negatively: positive for media consumers by offering both a broad and narrow range of content, and on traditional as well as new platforms, but negative for the surrounding media market competing for consumers. The Authority’s overall assessment, however, is that the public service companies do not act in a way that obviously disturbs other players, and that the greatest influence on the media market can be attributed to the ongoing digitalization and globalization.

The assessment is based on the Authority’s analysis of public broadcasters’ role in a changing media landscape, their news operations on the Internet, their content supply, and their roles as purchasers, rights-holders and sponsorship recipients, etc.

New regulation for public value tests?
The decision on introducing ex ante tests for new public broadcasting services was taken by the Government in 2010, and the determination of what entails a new service for evaluation lies with the public broadcasters. Since the system was introduced, no new services have been submitted for evaluation.

The Authority now proposes that other stakeholders should be able to request an ex ante assessment. The request should be submitted to the Broadcasting Commission – a special decision-making body within the Broadcasting Authority – to evaluate whether the service should be subject to an ex ante test. The final decision on whether the new service should be tested, however, should still lie with the public broadcaster.

Reactions from stakeholders
TU (the industry organization) and TV4 (the largest commercial TV broadcaster) both criticize the results of the report. They suggest, for example, that the public values tests should be conducted by an independent authority, e.g. the Competition Authority, while SVT (public TV) is critical of the proposal to make the public value tests more stringent. As for radio operators, the Bauer Media Group and SR (public radio) express different views on whether public service radio affects commercial radio actors’ ability to operate.

Download the report - in Swedish, incl. a summary in English (PDF)
Read more at the Broadcasting Authority’s website (in Swedish)


Public service and media market reviews in the Nordic countries (some links lead to pages in Scandinavian languages): Norway’s Minister of Culture presented a white paper (Stortingsmelding) on public service and media plurality in June 2015. In Finland the media markets will be reviewed this autumn, to be followed by an assessment of the Finnish Broadcasting Company’s public service duty in 2016. The Danish Ministry of Culture has appointed a public service committee (public service-udvalg) to draft a basis for discussion about the role of public service media; this work is to be completed in 2017.