Basic Data

Official Country Name: Kingdom of Sweden
Region (Map name): Europe
Population: 8,875,053
Language(s): Swedish
Literacy rate: 99.0%
Area: 449,964 sq km
GDP: 227,319 (US$ millions)
Number of Daily Newspapers: 93
Total Circulation: 3,700,000
Circulation per 1,000: 541
Number of Nondailys Newspapers: 74
Total Circulation: 389,000
Circulation per 1,000: 57
Newspaper Consumption (minutes per day): 31
Total Newspaper Ad Receipts: 9,483 (Swedish Krona millions)
As % of All Ad Expenditures: 55.20
Magazine Consumption (minutes per day): 11
Number of Television Stations: 169
Number of Television Sets: 4,600,000
Television Sets per 1,000: 518.3
Television Consumption (minutes per day): 105
Number of Cable Subscribers: 1,773,770


Cable Subscribers per 1,000: 199.3
Number of Satellite Subscribers: 1,050,000
Satellite Subscribers per 1,000: 118.3
Number of Radio Stations: 267
Number of Radio Receivers: 8,250,000
Radio Receivers per 1,000: 929.6
Radio Consumption (minutes per day): 129
Number of Individuals with Computers: 4,500,000
Computers per 1,000: 507.0
Number of Individuals with Internet Access: 4,048,000
Internet Access per 1,000: 456.1
Internet Consumption (minutes per day): 21

Background & General Characteristics

Sweden is officially known as the Kingdom of Sweden and is a constitutional monarchy. Located in northern Europe on the Scandinavian Peninsula between Finland and Norway, Sweden is 449,964 square kilometers, about double the size of the United Kingdom. This area includes 39,030 square kilometers of water, and Sweden's coastline runs 3,218 kilometers. The terrain is flat for the most part with some rolling hills, much forest, and more substantial mountains in western Sweden. The climate is temperate in the South with cold winters and cool summers. The northern part of Sweden experiences a sub-arctic climate. Average temperatures range from 38 degrees Fahrenheit (3.2 degrees Celsius) to 65 degrees Fahrenheit (18.4 degrees Celsius). Annual rainfall averages 385 millimeters.

Modern Sweden is highly industrialized and is known for its progressive social policies. In 2001, the country's population was estimated at 8,875,053 with 65 percent between the ages of 15 and 64 years old, whereas the rest of the population is equally divided between those 14 years of age and younger and those 65 years of age and older. Life expectancy is approximately 80 years, and Sweden has a near zero population growth rate. The country is remarkably homogeneous with 89 percent of the population having a Swedish heritage. Finnish and Saami make up the largest ethnic minorities. The common language is Swedish with small Lapp and Finnish speaking groups. Stockholm is the capitol of the country and has a population of over 700,000. The next largest city is Goteborg with a population near 500,000; Malmo is the third largest city with approximately 250,000 people. More than 83 percent of the population lives in an urban area. Generally, the Swedish economy has been successful and is a combination of capitalism and a substantial welfare system. Sweden emphasizes social welfare, and these programs are the largest expense for the government, followed by expenditures for education and then cultural programs. Swedes pay high taxes, but they receive a wide array of public services and social welfare programs, including national health insurance coverage for all citizens. The quality of health care is excellent, and health care centers are available in every community.

All are guaranteed a minimum standard of living, and income is redistributed over a person's lifetime as Sweden is socialistic and seeks to narrow income gaps. In fact, almost all families are middle class, and poverty is practically unknown. Few explicit displays of wealth can be found, and Swedes tend not to drive fancy sports cars or sport utility vehicles; more than half own Volvos. All citizens receive a basic pension beginning at the age of 65.

At the start of the twenty-first century, high unemployment, a smaller role in world markets, and increased costs have resulted in some economic uncertainty. Even with this economic adversity, Swedes enjoy one of the highest economic and social standards of living in Europe. The Swedish economy has benefited from its extended period of peace and neutrality. Sweden was a military power during the seventeenth century, yet it has not participated in any major armed conflict since that time. During both World Wars, Sweden maintained armed neutrality. Sweden has a highly skilled workforce and utilizes its natural resources, including timber, hydro-power, and iron ore, important to foreign trade. In 2000, services employed 74 percent of the workforce, 24 percent worked in industry, and 2 percent worked in agriculture.

Sweden has extremely progressive family policies. Parents get 12 months of paid leave per child that either partner may use before the child turns eight years old, in addition to tax-free allowances. Communities also offer day care centers and activities for youth. Family unity is strong. Sweden is also known for being quite liberal in its social practices. More that 90 percent of those in Sweden engage in premarital sex, and this is the highest known rate in the world. Drugs are also popular, and Sweden consumes more alcohol per capita than most other countries. Rates of sexually transmitted diseases and alcoholism are quite low though, and very little drug abuse occurs in Sweden. Public transportation abounds with subways, bullet trains, and buses, and most towns are created for walking or bicycling, not car travel.

Sweden cooperates with and shares many cultural similarities with the other Scandinavian countries and was the founding member of the Nordic Council in 1953. Because Sweden was concerned about its political and economic position in Europe at large, it did not enter the European Union until 1995 and did not introduce the Euro until 1999. Although Sweden maintains a hereditary monarchy as head of state, the King was reduced to a ceremonial role with the adoption of a new constitution in 1975. The Parliament and Prime Minister run the government. The citizenry elects members of Parliament, and then the Parliament elects the Prime Minister. Numerous political parties compete for voters, including Social Democrats, Moderates, Left Party, Christian Democrats, Center Party, Liberal Party, and Greens. Swedes are politically active and well educated. The literacy rate approaches 100 percent, and of those 15 years of age and older, 21.3 percent have completed a higher education degree.

The first newspaper published in Sweden is generally considered to be the Ordinari Post Tijender. This paper first appeared in the middle of the seventeenth century. News of the Thirty Years War filled the paper, and the government controlled the content. The press did not become an entity offering information and analysis beyond what the government provided until the next century. The Aftonbladet began publishing in 1830, and was the first newspaper in Sweden to offer news, along with editorial commentary and entertainment. By the beginning of the twenty-first century, Sweden had a wide variety and large number of press publications. More than 10,000 distinct publications exist, including approximately 170 daily newspapers. In fact, Sweden has an especially large number of newspapers available per capita compared to the rest of the world. Some of the largest circulation dailies located in the three largest cities of Stockholm, Malmo and Gothenburg include Aftonbladet, Dagens Nyheter,Expressen,Kvallsposton,Goteborgs-Posten,Metro,Skanska Dagbladet,Sydsvenska Dagbladet, and Svenska Dagbladet. All of these newspapers have easily accessible Web sites. Daily business papers include Dagens Industri and Finanstidningen. The government's Department of Mass Media Policy is responsible for all press and publishing in Sweden.

A major indicator of cultural habits in Sweden is socio-economic status, and years of education, in particular, predict the amount and kind of media use. In 1974, a resolution in Parliament, which was revised in 1996, delineated the goals for cultural policies in Sweden. The

thrust of these goals is to provide freedom of expression and the creation of opportunities for all in Sweden to participate in and create their own cultural activities. In addition, cultural pluralism, artistic renewal and artistic quality are national goals. These goals were specifically implemented to counteract negative consequences of commercialism. In fact, Sweden maintained a fairly tightly controlled and state-sponsored broadcast media until the 1990s in order to maintain quality and educational programming. Commercial television was not available in Sweden until an act of Parliament allowed it in 1991, and private commercial radio was not available until 1993. The Swedish broadcast media was originally developed and maintained by the state based on the philosophy that these forms of information dissemination should be a public service to citizens, as opposed to a capitalistic enterprise.

Sweden also prides itself on its adherence to freedom of the press and freedom of speech principles. In fact, Sweden is considered one of the first countries in the world to adopt a freedom of press provision in its constitution. The Parliament established the Freedom of the Press Act when the constitution was ratified in 1766. This Act only covered the printed press so legislation was later enacted that provided for the same freedom of press principles for broadcast media. Sweden is especially vigilant among industrialized countries in its advocacy for press freedoms and its opposition to censorship. The government though does require that journalists work responsibly and adhere to an elaborate code of conduct established by the state.

As in most countries, media forms expanded rapidly in the last 30 years of the twentieth century. Radio, television, and Internet or electronic forms of information distribution have changed not only the structure of media forms but also the content conveyed in Sweden. After the first television broadcast in 1956, a second national television station began in 1969, and the third did not transmit its first broadcast until 1991. In 1997, 169 broadcast stations were available in Sweden, and many more were accessible from foreign broadcasters through cable and satellite transmissions. Moreover, 4.5 million residents of Sweden used the Internet in 2000, and thousands of radio stations and some television channels are available on the Internet. Changes in media use in Sweden have been documented in terms of minutes of use per day from 1970 compared to 1991. For the age group of 9 years old to 79 years old, Swedes spent an average of 50 minutes reading newspapers and magazines in 1970, compared to 44 minutes of reading in 1991. Whereas Swedes listened to the radio an average of 125 minutes each day in 1970, in 1991 they listened to 117 minutes of radio each day. Unlike newspaper reading and radio listening, television viewing increased during this time period. In 1970, Swedes watched an average of 95 minutes of television each day. By 1991, the number of viewing minutes increased to 117 minutes on average.

Economic Framework

Newspapers receive government subsidies in order to provide for a diverse media. The Press Subsidy Board provides grants directly to newspapers. Newspapers and other periodicals also may apply for an exemption from tax, a substantial benefit with the standard tax rate at 25 percent. Newspapers received SK 480 million in 1995. More than 200 cultural periodicals received SK 19 million in 1995. In May of 2002, Bjoern Rosengren, the Minister for Industrial Affairs, recommended that the government develop a subsidy program for Swedes who want broadband connections for high-speed Internet connections. The government had launched a program in 1997 that offered a tax rebate for the purchase of personal computers. Along these lines, Rosengren proposed that a government subsidy would stimulate broadband connections across the country. In particular, he argued that people should not be required to pay more than E 33 each month for broadband so any costs beyond that should be covered by the central government. Broadband connections provided by United Pan-European Communications cost E 30 per month in 2002. Bredbandsbolaget charges E 33 a month, and Telia charges E 38 a month for its broadband service.

Television broadcasting in Sweden began as a monopoly and was intended to be a service to the general

public, so advertising was not permitted. Instead, license fees provided financial support for stations, and these fees still contribute to the support of some stations. Radio also began as a monopoly. Like television, license fees rather than advertising supported it. Local commercial radio in Sweden only began in 1993. Economically, the cultural policy goals created by Parliament in 1996 reflect a desire to decentralize the administration and financing of cultural activities in the country. No regional structure exists for that, but the 24 county councils and 288 municipalities do participate in the funding of cultural activities and are expected to take more control over cultural development in their communities. Additionally, these national cultural goals specifically express a concern about commercialism. Sweden, compared to other industrialized countries, was late to commercial its radio and television broadcasts. Both radio and television have operated under quite traditional values of public service to the community so private broadcasts supported by commercials were not allowed until the 1990s.

A major economic concern about media in Sweden is the concentration of ownership. In 1999, the Media Concentration Committee suggested legislation that would counteract the concentration of ownership and power within Swedish media enterprises. Expressing concern for a free and wide distribution of information, ideas, opinions and debate, the committee suggestions included a specific law about the concentration of ownership in the most influential media forms, including newspapers, radio, and television. Public service companies and educational radio would not be included in the legislation. The law would cover private and other public companies, including foreign companies active in Sweden. The committee was especially concerned about cable companies who, according to the committee, hold a near monopoly. Although competition legislation generally requires constitutional changes, the committee proposed a new clause in radio and television law that would make it illegal to require conditions in connection agreements that restrict rights to install or use different cable television connections or to install a satellite dish. These rules took effect on January of 2000, whereas those requiring constitutional review are to be enacted in January of 2003.

Press Laws

The press is subject to Sweden's Code of Ethics for Press, Radio and Television. The code ensures that the press has as much freedom as possible to disseminate the news and offer critiques of social and governmental policies within the limits of the Freedom of the Press Act and relevant constitutional rights to freedom of speech. The code also exists to ensure that the press behaves responsibly with their power to disseminate information. Accurate and objective reporting is called for in this code as the press needs to be accountable to the general public. Sources should be checked carefully even if facts have been previously published. Pictures need to be authentic, and any retouching or electronic alterations of pictures should be reported next to the image. Graphs, illustrations, and pictures need to be accurate and should not be presented in a misleading manner. Headlines should be supported by the text of the story. Any errors should be corrected in a timely manner, and corrections should be presented in a way that attracts those who were likely to have been exposed to the errors. Those wishing to rebut information presented should be provided with an opportunity to do so.

The code protects an individual's right to privacy and from unwarranted suffering. In this regard, the press is expected not to interfere with an individual's privacy unless it is clearly in the public interest to do so. Notices of suicide are to be published with great caution. Victims of crimes or accidents should also be considered and respected. Names and pictures need to be checked carefully so as not to cause harm to relatives. When an individual's race, sex, nationality, occupation, political affiliation or religious persuasion are not important to the story, the press is expected not to emphasize these statuses.

Good journalistic practice is primarily the responsibility of the Swedish Press Council and the Press Ombudsman. When the Press Council rules on an infraction, the council produces a brief report that is then published in trade journals, including Pressens Tdining ( PressJournal ) and Journalisten ( The Journalist ). Anyone can subscribe to the rulings of the Press Council through the Swedish Newspaper Publishers' Association (Tidningsutgivarna). Additionally, if a newspaper is censured by the Swedish Press Council, that paper is obligated to report it. The Press Council does not address programming.

The Swedish Radio and TV Authority is the government agency that legally regulates broadcast media. The director of the Authority is appointed by the government and has executive powers. A supervisory council appointed by the government oversees the activities of the Authority because it has so much power in the media arena in Sweden. The Authority grants licenses for radio transmissions and registers all who engage in broadcasting based on the provisions of the Radio and TV Act. It approves cable-broadcasting companies and makes proposals to the government about such things as how licenses for digital terrestrial television should be distributed. The Authority also regulates television standards and has the power to sanction media entities that violate Swedish media rules or laws.

The Swedish Broadcasting Commission is another governmental agency responsible for enforcing broadcast media laws. This commission is specifically responsible for enforcing radio and television programming policies. Television and radio transmissions are legally regulated by the Fundamental Law on Freedom of Expression of 1991 along with the Radio and Television Act of 1996 and other related legislation. The commission reviews program content for compliance with these laws regulating broadcasts and with the licenses given to broadcasters by the government. All Swedish television and radio broadcasts that serve the public, which includes local, regional or national broadcasts, are regulated. This commission also examines programming in Sweden that is distributed by foreign sources via satellite. These transmissions are regulated by the rules adopted by the European Union member countries. The commission often reviews programming in response to citizen complaints. No fee is charged to lodge a complaint, but the complainant must provide identifying information. Sometimes, the Director of the Commission initiates program reviews. In addition, this commission conducts and reports on research about the content of television and radio broadcasts in Sweden.

The public service broadcasters in Sweden are the most regulated. These include Swedish Television (SVT), Swedish Radio (SR), and Swedish Educational Broadcasting (UR). These companies are expected to broadcast accurately and with impartiality. Any impact that programs may have must be carefully considered before being broadcast. Attention to representations of sex, violence, drug use, and to content that discriminates against people on the basis of gender or ethnicity is required. These companies, along with consideration of the form and scheduling of the presentation must carefully evaluate the impact of such programming. In addition, they are expected to respect the privacy of individuals and are obligated to other public service activities, such as offering good quality programming, a large variety of program options, and programming that represents the needs and interests of minority communities or views. Investigative news, art, science, and religious programming are expected from these broadcasters. Programming also must be available for those who are partially deaf or visually impaired. Some of these regulations also apply to TV4, a national commercial broadcaster, and TV4 is also subject to the regulations concerning advertisements and sponsors. SVT, SR, and UR are not allowed to include commercial advertising. Sweden is also fairly unique in its ban on advertising aimed at children under the age of 12. Sweden argues that young children cannot differentiate between programming and advertising. This law came under review by the European Union, and the European Court of Justice ruled that the ban should only be applied to those who actually broadcast from Sweden. In other words, broadcasters from other countries may include advertising directed toward children in their programming that is available in Sweden. Cigarette and alcohol advertising is also illegal in Sweden.


Sweden prides itself on it free press and has been a strong advocate for freedom of the press around the world. Most of the Swedish censorship laws concern violence, and presenting some scenes of violence is considered a criminal offense. However, despite the clarity and consistency of Sweden's policies against censorship, freedom of the press does experience some challenges. For example, conflict and even violence related to press freedoms made 1996 an unusually troubling year for the media in Sweden, the worst since World War II. Neo-Nazis attempted to intimidate newspaper staff and distributors of Expo, an antiracist newspaper. Newspaper stand windows were broken, and Expo 's printers were stopped from producing the paper. Journalists from other papers rallied around Expo and ensured its survival. Additionally, after the newspaper with the largest circulation in Sweden, Expressen, published an exposé on the criminal activities of a biker gang, the editor and several journalists received death threats and required police protection. In 1996, when another newspaper and magazine received death threats from biker gangs, they stopped their investigative reports on the gangs. Other newspapers have left journalists' bylines off of biker gang related pieces. Other journalists were intimidated by a gang from covering a trial of a biker charged with attempted murder. Only one of the three news groups threatened chose to press charges against the gang.

By 1999, in a concerted effort to combat intimidation by Neo-Nazi groups, the four largest newspapers in the country, Expressen,Aftonbladet,Svenska Dagbladet, and Dagens Nyheter, published the same article and editorials about Neo-Nazi groups in Sweden and included pictures of 61 people thought to be affiliated with Neo-Nazi organizations. The Prime Minister supported this action and reaffirmed Sweden's commitment to a free and unencumbered press. Another example of Sweden's concern about censorship and a free press system occurred in 2000. Sweden was one of only three countries that voted not to classify documents related to the security and defense of the European Union.

Newspapers tend not to publish pictures of individuals who have been murdered or killed in accidents to avoid trauma to victims' families. However, in 2000, the Sydsvenska Dagbladet violated this informal rule by publishing a picture of a man who was shot to death. Although the man's face was not shown, the Press Ombudsman presented the case to the Swedish Press Council. The council concluded that publishing that picture was a violation of the ethical code of conduct for journalists. However, in 2001 the Supreme Court in Sweden confirmed the importance of freedom of expression in a celebrated case in which an individual published the names and other personal information of bank officials that he claimed stole his company. The court ruled that the individual was acting in a journalistic capacity in that he was offering the information to the public and relating his personal experience, as opposed to violating the privacy of the bank personnel. The court reaffirmed Sweden's intent to live by the principle supported by the European Court of Human Rights that allows even shocking and offensive materials to be freely expressed. In 1999, the central government initiated a parliamentary-based commission charged with examining basic issues related to freedom of the press and freedom of speech. This commission was deemed necessary because of the many advances in information technology. More specifically, the commission was to explore basic freedom of speech protections that would work across the various methods of transmission or technological developments in information dissemination.

The major threat to freedom of the press in Sweden is the concentration of ownership of the major media in the country. Schibsted, a large Norwegian media organization, holds substantial interest in two of the four largest daily newspapers in the country, with 88.6 percent ownership of Svenska Dagbladet and 49.9 percent ownership of Aftonbladet. Bonnier, a large Swedish media organization, owns the other two largest dailies, and also owns GT and Kvallsposten, two additional Swedish dailies.

State-Press Relations

The government and public service radio and television companies have agreements that regulate broadcasts and programming. These companies are expected to serve the public interest, and the government requires a certain amount of variety, education, and quality in their programming. Moreover, although the owners of the three public service companies in radio and television are popular movements, such as labor unions, consumer groups, and religious organizations (60 percent), commerce and industry (20 percent), and the press (20 percent), each of these public service companies have regional organizations, and the government nominates members to most of the governing bodies for these companies. In addition, although each company is responsible for programming and production, they are also restricted by governmental broadcasting laws. However, the state is supportive of press freedoms, and the central government has initiated much legislation designed to promote and encourage an open and free press. In fact, the ethical code for journalists in Sweden requires that journalists offer a critical view of governmental legislation and policies. Government records and correspondence are fully available to the media and the general public.

The government also offers subsidies to newspapers to encourage competition and the availability of alternative views in as many communities as possible. The philosophy of the state in terms of the press is that it provides society with an efficient means of communication and debate, and both are necessary for an informed citizenry and an effective democratic society. The state then is supportive of the principles of a free press, but it also plays a large role in what is broadcast in Sweden.

Attitude toward Foreign Media

Foreign media are welcomed in Sweden, and several foreign news agencies have bureaus in Stockholm. In fact, the open door policy on governmental records applies to anyone who wants to view them, including foreign media. Foreign media do not need any special licenses or accreditation. News flows freely both in and out of Sweden. Sweden has attempted to limit some foreign cable and satellite stations to the restrictions placed on Swedish broadcasting companies, but even these efforts have not succeeded as the European Council has essentially ruled that broadcast entities housed in Sweden must operate based on Swedish law, but foreign-based broadcasting companies are not subject to Swedish laws, for example those prohibiting advertising targeted to children.

News Agencies

Several news agencies serve and work out of Sweden. Agence France-Presse has a regional headquarters in Stockholm with additional Nordic branches in Copenhagen, Oslo, Helsinki, and Reykjavic. News from the Nordic is presented every hour by this group of journalists, located across the region. This news is presented in seven languages and includes stories about economic, health, political, sports and technological developments. News Agency Direkt originated in 1988 and serves financial markets in Sweden. Coverage focuses on market movement, corporate news and earnings, and financial forecasts. FLT Media AB is owned by 67 local and non-political newspapers that serve 86 different presses. The International News Service is a for-profit news agency that provides Swedish business news, including information about new products and business innovations. In 1985, Reuters opened a Nordic and Baltic regional bureau with headquarters located in Stockholm. This bureau represents eight countries and provides regional business and news of international interest. More than 42 journalists work in this bureau. The major Swedish news agency is Tidningarnas Telegrambyra. All broadcast media and newspapers in Sweden patronize this news agency that includes news from Sweden and around the world, along with features and information about business, sports, and economic conditions in Sweden and elsewhere.

Broadcast Media


Television was first broadcast in Sweden in 1956, as a result of a decision by the Parliament to develop television for the public. A second station was not added until 1969, and a third (TV4) came into existence in 1991. TV4 is an independent entity that is financed commercially. The central antenna system was the basis for cable television in Sweden. In the 1960s and 1970s, many newly constructed apartment buildings had these systems installed. In 1984, a law allowed for the reception of satellite broadcasts through cable. This led to a rapid expansion of the cable television market. Private commercial cable channels have been legal in Sweden since 1992. By the late 1990s, the market for cable stagnated as almost all multi-family residences had cable installed. Some 88 percent of households have access to either cable or satellite television. Tella Kabel TV, Kabelvision, Stjarn-TV and Sweden Online are the four largest cable television operators in the country. There were 4.6 million televisions and 169 distinct broadcast stations in Sweden in1997. Besides the public service stations, Swedes have access to primarily news channels, including STV24 and TV9. Of course, Swedes have access to such channels as pay-per-view, pay movie, Nickelodeon, MTV Scandinavia, and MTV Sweden as well.

Television is distributed through a terrestrial network, a cable network, and satellites. Both analog and digital technologies existed in Sweden in 2002. Analog transmissions require a license from the government, and three companies held analog terrestrial transmission licenses in 1997. All three, Sveriges Television AB, the Swedish Educational Broadcasting company (Utbildningsradion), and TV4 AB, broadcast nationwide. In 1999, digital transmissions on the terrestrial network began. Applications for licenses for such digital transmissions are prepared by the Swedish Radio and TV Authority with the central government deciding on the distribution of licenses. These digital terrestrial transmissions licenses have been granted to 14 companies.

Satellites are used for television transmissions and for telecommunications. The television satellites are geo-stationary, meaning they stay in a single place on the ground. Satellite television transmissions then occur in one of three ways. Transmissions are carried via satellite between two ground stations, they are carried between a ground station and a cable or broadband network, and they are carried between a ground station and individual subscribers (Direct-To-Home transmissions). Cable networks were upgraded to allow for satellite transmissions beginning in 1984, and this accelerated the growth of the cable industry.

In 2000, more than 2.6 million homes were connected to a cable network. The Swedish Radio and TV Authority appoint local cable companies, but no licenses are required. The tremendous growth in the information technology industry has contributed to the services offered by cable television companies. In addition to traditional television transmissions, cable services include video-on-demand and connections to the Internet. Cable networks offer either a further transmission or an original transmission. A further transmission is not altered and occurs simultaneously as it is received from a transmitter on the earth or from a satellite. An original transmission comes directly from the source, a studio for example. Such transmissions may be local, such as from The Open Channel in Gothenburg, Fridhem Folk High School, or the HSB's Tenant Owners' Association. TV21 offers original nationwide transmissions. Television consumers have mostly further transmission channels. The legislation associated with cable transmissions is included in the fundamental law on freedom of expression in 1991 and related laws. This fundamental law gives all Swedish citizens the right to transmit programs using cable. Specifics about such cable transmissions are delineated in the Swedish Radio and TV Act of 1996. This act contains regulations for both radio and television programs intended for the general public and received with the use of advanced technology.

In Sweden, satellites were first used for communications. When satellite capacity increased, television pictures could be shared between national television companies. With increased power in the 1980s, the number of direct satellite broadcasts to the general public increased substantially. Satellites receive transmissions from the ground and send them back to the ground in a designated area. Transponders are built into the satellite and vary in their capacity or bandwidth. Between 20 and 40 transponders are contained in a single satellite. One transponder may be devoted to an analog channel, whereas a single transponder can transmit 6 to 10 digital channels. A parabolic aerial is needed to receive satellite channels, and digital transmissions require a digital TV-box or decoder. Satellite transmissions are regulated by the 1991 fundamental law on freedom of expression, the Radio and TV Act of 1996, and an ordinance created by the Swedish Radio and TV Authority. The authority specifically addressed standards for television transmission signals, and the Swedish Consumer Agency supervises the standards for consumer television receivers.

Digital terrestrial television was introduced in stages in Sweden in order for the government to determine if and how digital transmissions should occur. Digital terrestrial television was first allowed in the spring of 1997 with an act of the Swedish Parliament. Transmissions actually began in April of 1999 with a limited number of areas allowed to receive digital transmissions. These areas included Stockholm, Northern Ostergotland, Gothenburg, and Sundsvall. More than half of all Swedes were capable of receiving digital terrestrial transmissions in 1999, and the Parliament agreed in November of 2000 to extend the coverage to the entire country. By the end of 2002, 98 percent of the population could receive digital transmissions. Digital technology uses combinations of ones and zeros to represent pictures and sound. It allows for more digital channels in the same space as an analog channel, and digital channels are not as sensitive to transmission disturbances as analog channels. Digital technology also requires less energy to distribute and offers more interactive capabilities. Sweden has been targeted for testing of the latest innovations in media, such as interactive television.


The first radio transmission in Sweden was in 1921. The Swedish Broadcasting Corporation (Sveriges Radio) and the Swedish Educational Broadcasting Company (Utbildningsradion) are the only nationwide companies that provide radio broadcasts. In 1979, community radio stations were permitted to broadcast within specific geographical areas on a trial basis. Community radio is for local and nonprofit groups and is intended as a public service and an important means of communication. Sixteen locations took advantage of the opportunity to provide community radio during the first three years it was allowed in Sweden. Community radio became permanent in 1986, and the number of licenses given by the Swedish Radio and TV Authority for community radio increased steadily for the next two years. However, since 1988 the number of licenses has declined dramatically. There were 2,200 community radio license holders in 1991, but just 1,160 license holders in 2000. The Radio and TV Act of 1998 included provisions to promote community radio. Provisions included removing the transmission time fees and the requirement that an association have a main activity beyond community radio. The Act also allowed for transmission across larger areas beyond a local municipality. With these changes, community radio is once again expanding.

Local commercial radio only began in the 1990s after years of debate in the Swedish Parliament (Riksdagen). In 1993, the Parliament allowed advertisement-financed local radio broadcasts and required a license from the Swedish Radio and TV Authority to transmit local commercial radio. The first few years of local commercial radio were quite turbulent with numerous changes in format and ownership. Most stations seem to have settled on a primarily music format aimed at specific audiences. Radio Sweden offers broadcasts in nine languages to include minority group listeners. The government approved digital sound radio transmissions, also known as Digital Audio Broadcasting (DAB) in 1995. This is the most recent innovation in radio in Sweden. This radio technology allows for better sound, fewer disturbances, and access to more programs. No simply a new transmission technology, DAB also reduces the distinctions between television and radio and allows for interactivity. DAB is available to about 85 percent of households in Sweden, but very few people have DAB receivers. Transmission of DAB requires a government license. The government has issued DAB licenses to the Swedish Broadcasting Corporation (Sveriges Radio AB) and the Swedish Educational Broadcasting Corporation Company (Utbildningsradion AB). No private broadcasting companies have a DAB license in Sweden, and in fact, when addressing this issue in 1999, the central government decided not to issue DAB licenses to private companies. In terms of DAB, Sweden uses one national frequency block and 19 regional blocks. Radio is usually transmitted with the terrestrial network, but may be distributed through cable and by satellite. Both analog and digital radio technology are used for radio transmissions. Swedes owned 8.25 million radios in 1997, and had 1 AM, 265 FM, and 1 short-wave radio broadcast stations.

The Swedish Broadcasting Commission is the central government authority responsible for radio and television programs in the country. This commission reviews program content for compliance with laws regulating broadcasts and with the licenses given to broadcasters by the government. Licensing broadcast media operations is the responsibility of the Swedish Radio and TV Authority. This government authority grants licenses for radio transmissions and registers everyone who engages in broadcasting. The authority also provides information about new developments in media for the government and any interested parties. The authority analyzes existing statistics about media and surveys the needs of users. It also collects and publishes its own statistics about the media, and obtains and publishes other media related information, regarding such issues as ownership, financial stability, technology in the industry, and the structure of the media. Publications by the authority occur every year and have included Developments in the Media Field 2000 and A Guide to Digital Television. All books are free and can be ordered by simply contacting the authority. Finally, the authority provides a media database that can be accessed through its Web site. Swedish citizens or any interested party can analyze the media related data collected by the authority.

Electronic News Media

Internet is the newest form of media in Sweden. Twenty-nine Internet Service Providers operated in Sweden in 2000. More than 4.5 million residents of Sweden used the Internet by 2000. Thousands of Swedish radio stations are available on the Internet. The Swedish Broadcasting Corporation is aired on the Internet, as are local commercial stations. Streaming, a technology that allows the transmission to take place in real time and does not transfer or save the data to the consumers' computer hard drive, is available in Sweden. The most common streaming formats used in Sweden are RealPlayer (RealNet-works), Media Player (Microsoft) and Quicktime (Apple). Spraydio.com and nighttime radio transmissions of the newspaper aftonbladet are two examples of this. Radio Sweden offers broadcasts in six languages to the rest of the world via the Internet, short wave radio, local relays and satellite. News from Sweden and the entire Nordic region is posted every weekday to Radio Sweden's Web site. Daily headlines are also available by e-mail and mobile telephones. Special MP3 receivers are available in Sweden that allow the user to download music from radio broadcasts.

Television broadcasts are also available on the Internet in real time with streaming technology. The quality of the picture and sound depends on the quality of the receiver's connection. Theoretically, the quality available to viewers in Sweden with broadband technology is limitless. Many newspapers are published on the Internet in Sweden as well. According to the "database rule" of the Freedom of Expression Act (Chapter 1, article 9), someone acceptable to the government must be assigned responsibility for electronically distributed information.

Education & Training

Higher education in Sweden follows nine years of elementary school ( grundskola ) and between two and four

years of secondary school ( gymnasieskola ). Since the 1970s, the higher education system in Sweden has been unified. Thirteen universities and some 20 other institutions of higher education exist throughout the country and are considered regional institutions of higher education. The Parliament has established study programs for undergraduate education, and these programs are based on a point system, with one point representing one week of full-time study with an academic year consisting of 40 points. Full programs usually consist of between 120 and 160 points, or between three and four years of study. An advanced degree usually takes an additional four years after the completion of an undergraduate degree. Dissertation research is defended in public and the completion of a graduate program results in a doctor's degree ( doktorsexamen ).

Stockholm University offers extensive programs in journalism. In 1989, the university's School of Journalism was combined with the Unit for Media and Cultural Theory to form the new Department of Media and Cultural Theory. The intent was to include all education and research related to journalism, mass communications, and information studies under one unified department. This department offers an undergraduate degree in journalism in addition to an undergraduate degree in media and communication studies. The journalism undergraduate offerings are divided into two programs. One requires 140 points and results in a journalism degree, and the other requires 40 points of study in journalism taken in conjunction with studies for an undergraduate degree in another subject. Both programs are considered professional degrees and qualify recipients to work as journalists in Sweden. Both programs provide journalism skills, critical theory, and knowledge of society. Students study the

history of journalism, mass media rhetoric, visual communication, journalism in society, media studies and law, journalistic research methods, and global electronic journalism. Specific course teachings include using electronic sources and publishing electronically on the Internet. The media and communication studies undergraduate program examines different forms of communication in society and the role of mass media. The program consists of unique courses including a basic course, a continuation course, an advanced course and a master's course for a total of 80 points. This is a multi-disciplinary program that is theoretical and analytical, and includes the methods and theories of the human and social sciences. Students have the opportunity to concentrate in planned communication, mass communication, or popular culture. Those interested in becoming information workers generally concentrate on planned communication. Each concentration prepares students for a variety of jobs in the media and communication fields.

Many types of research occur in the department. One concerns media texts or the content and form of expression used in the media. Among these investigators, texts are viewed as artifacts or cultural expressions. In other research, texts are regarded as journalistic products, and research addresses how media is received by the public, and in particular, what media is used and how the public responds to it. Research in this area may take a variety of approaches, involving such fields as social psychology, cognitive theories, ethnographic analyses, and cultural studies. Several studies address youth culture and how media helps to create and maintain youth subcultures. The history and structure of the media are also researched, including studies of media ownership and the relationship between government and media. Finally, the department includes research opportunities and development projects related to the practice of journalism. In particular, research explores the impact of rapidly developing technological innovations in media and how these innovations affect the activities of journalists.

Two postgraduate communications programs are available at Stockholm University, one in Journalism and the other in Media and Communication Studies. Both programs have similar goals and structure, and in fact, the programs are more integrated with each other at the doctoral level then at the undergraduate level. All qualified students may conduct research in either area, and some of the same courses are required in both programs. Admission to these programs requires a minimum of 120 Swedish university points or the equivalent as recognized by the Swedish Ministry of Education, and a major in journalism or communication studies of at least 80 university points. In addition, a bachelor's or master's thesis must have been completed before admittance to these programs. Some applicants with social science or humanities degrees who have attained some proficiency in journalism or communication studies may be deemed qualified for the programs. Both postgraduate programs require 160 university points, with 100 of those points associated with the dissertation and 60 points coming from course work. The primary purpose of the courses is to improve students' knowledge and understanding of media issues. Media theory and research methods are two of the required courses for both programs and are worth 10 points each. The other 40 points of coursework come from specially arranged courses by the department. The dissertation is an independent study of importance to the journalism or communications fields. It may be a single extensive study or a series of scientific papers.

Mid-Sweden University also has extensive undergraduate and graduate programs for journalism training. The university's Department of Media and Communication was founded in 1990 and serves students with communication and journalism occupational aspirations. The department also conducts research on media and communication concerns.

Although journalists are not required to have any specific education or training to engage in journalistic activities, a bachelor's degree is generally sufficient for the acquisition of a traditional journalist position. A doctoral degree in journalism is primarily intended for those interested in advanced training and research activities in a specific media arena. Working journalists receive continual training provided by the Press Institute. This institute is owned and managed by a combination of journalism employers and actual journalists. Training typically occurs in newsrooms throughout Sweden and usually address recent developments in the field. The Swedish Newspaper Publishers' Association is a trade organization that provides information and support for publishers and other media companies in Sweden. Journalists are supported and represented by the Swedish Union of Journalists ( www.sjf.se ). This professional and union organization works with journalists who have a Swedish employer and has over 18,000 members.


Sweden has a press that is as rich and varied as any in the world. This country is well known among the international press for its high quality news and reporting. Sweden has stood out with its highly literate public and a press engaged in world events that is encouraged, even required, to report the whole story along with critical commentary. However, some fear that with the legalization of commercially funded broadcasts, Sweden's press will become a victim of the global economy. Sweden has lasted longer than most in its effort to maintain a diversity of ideas and competition among its newspapers and in its effort to provide educational and informative radio and television broadcasts to its citizens. Although Sweden charged the public a license fee for television broadcasts, the public received news programs and documentaries of the highest quality in terms of depth of analysis, critical content, and production. However, as commercial stations challenged these license-funded stations for viewers, the public service stations needed to maintain viewers to maintain their funding so they began copying the format of commercial stations. They now offer less analysis and less depth in their news reporting and include more entertainment-oriented information. Thus, even though Sweden maintains many commercial-free stations, they are reflective of popular commercial culture, instead of offering a critique of it.

In 2002, the public service broadcasters in Sweden compete with American situation comedies that are subtitled and American talk shows. Even newspapers from America are available in Sweden, including USA Today and the Wall Street Journal 's European edition. Like the availability of Coca-Cola and McDonald's hamburgers around the world, for better or worse, the media in Sweden is becoming more similar to the media in other industrialized countries. Nonetheless, Sweden is still a forerunner in freedom of the press issues and in its governmental action to limit concentration of ownership in media to provide the people of Sweden with a diversity of perspectives. Finally, international media critics expect that if this globalization of media is halted or reversed anywhere, it is likely to be in Sweden where the government maintains an active role in media and the philosophy that broadcast media should serve the public good.

Significant Dates

  • 1776: Parliament establishes the Freedom of the Press Act in the country's constitution.
  • 1830: The Aftonbladet begins publishing. It was the first newspaper in the country to offer news, along with editorial commentary and entertainment.
  • 1921: The first radio transmission is sent.
  • 1956: Television is broadcast for the first time.
  • 1991: Parliament allows commercial television.
  • 1993: Private commercial radio becomes available.
  • 1999: The Media Concentration Committee advocates counteracting the concentration of ownership and power within Swedish media enterprises.
  • 2001: In a well-publicized legal case, the Supreme Court confirms the importance of freedom of expression, allowing an individual to use the Internet to publish names and other personal information about bank personnel he contends stole his company.


Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). "Sweden Communications 2001." The World Factbook 2001. Available at http://www.cia.gov .

Schechter, Danny. "Sleepless in Stockholm: Dissecting the Media in Sweden." News Dissector. 16 March 2000. Available at http://www.mediachannel.org .

"Sweden: Code of Ethics for Press, Radio and Television." International Journalists' Network. Available at http://www.ijnet.org .

"Sweden." World Press Freedom Review. Available at http://www.freemedia.at .

"Virtual Sweden: Broadcast Media." Swedish Institute, 21 December 2001. Available at http://www.sweden.se .

Melanie Moore

Also read article about Sweden from Wikipedia

User Contributions:

Glena clearwater
is there a daily newspaper in Malmo, Sweden that I could contact

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