Media requirements and regulations

Impartiality
Accuracy
Respect of privacy
Corrective statements and replies
The medium's impact
Violence and pornography
Undue prominence of commercial interests
Broadcast designation
Advertising
Sponsorship
Product placement
Other terms and conditions

Impartiality

Applies to: The public service companies (SVT, SR and UR)

Being impartial is to adopt a neutral attitude without bias. Impartiality mainly involves three things:

  • If a person is clearly singled out and criticised, they should be given an opportunity to respond to the criticism.
  • Controversial topics or events may not be treated with bias.
  • Representatives of the broadcasting company may not take sides in a controversial issue.

The impartiality requirement does not, however, mean that a segment cannot adopt a critical approach or a particular angle. The public service companies are obligated to comment on different events, promote debate and scrutinise companies, organisations and authorities. The public service companies' obligation to comment also implies a certain scope for evaluative opinions.

Criticism of a clearly designated party

If a clearly designated party is subjected to severe criticism or serious accusations, they should, as a rule, be given an opportunity to defend themselves in the same programme. This can be achieved either through the designated party’s participation in the programme or by providing a statement by the party. Refusal to participate does not preclude the programme being aired. In such cases, the designated party's opinion should be presented in another way when possible.

Biased treatment of a topic or an event

Controversial topics or events may not be treated biasedly so that only one party's version or views clearly dominate. It is, however, allowed to depict a topic from a particular point of view, if it is evident from the programme or the programme's presentation. A biased report in one programme may be balanced by another report in another programme.

Positioning in a controversial issue

Presenters, reporters and others who may be perceived as representatives of the broadcasting company must not make evaluative statements or take a stance on controversial issues. In surveys, causeries and reviews there is a space for critical and evaluative reviews, provided the nature of the feature is considered clearly evident to the audience.

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Accuracy

Applies to: Public service, terrestrial TV

Information of significance must be accurate. Programmes may not be misleading, for example, through the omission of essential information. If the broadcasting company has implemented reasonable checks prior to broadcasting and the information later proves to be incorrect, then the feature does not conflict with the requirement of accuracy. An inaccurate piece of information should always be corrected where warranted.

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Respect for privacy

Applies to: Public service, terrestrial TV

The privacy of individuals should be respected unless the public interest dictates otherwise. This provision is designed to protect people's privacy, and is also applicable on publication of names in reports on crimes or suspected crimes. The Swedish Broadcasting Commission may only examine invasion of privacy issues if the person in question has given their consent.

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Corrective statements and replies

Applies to: Public service

An inaccurate piece of information shall always be rectified, i.e. be corrected. If it is warranted to have someone reply to a statement, this person should always be given an opportunity to do so. A request for rectification or to make a reply shall always be handled promptly. A corrective statement or reply shall be broadcast in or in conjunction with a programme of the same or similar character as the programme the complaint refers to.

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The Medium's impact

Applies to: Public service, terrestrial TV

Those broadcasting radio and TV in the terrestrial network shall take into account the impact of the medium in terms of format, topics and broadcasting hour. This provision is applied to the evaluation of programmes that contain or deal with subject matters such as violence, sex and drugs, and means that the broadcasting companies should exercise caution. Programmes that could be construed as incitement to crime are not allowed. Features that are clearly offensive to either gender are also prohibited, as well as programmes offensive to people of a certain skin colour, nationality, religion or sexual orientation. The application of the provision is affected, for example, by whether the programme or feature is satirical or humorous in nature.

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Violence and pornography

Applies to: Public service, terrestrial TV, cable TV, satellite TV, on-demand TV, online TV, teletext

Programmes with detailed and lifelike depictions of violence or pornographic images must come with a warning. Such programmes may not be aired at such a time and in such a way that there is a substantial risk that children may see them, unless it is justifiable for special reasons. 

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Undue prominence of commercial interests

Applies to: Public service, terrestrial TV, cable TV, satellite TV, on-demand TV, online TV, teletext, commercial radio, community radio, online radio

It is prohibited to unduly favour or promote commercial interests. This provision means that programmes may not encourage the purchase or hire of, or in any way promote a product or service in an improper manner. The aim is to prevent surreptitious advertising.

Some promotion of a commercial interest may be accepted if it is motivated by informative or entertainment interests.

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Broadcasting designation

Applies to: Public service, terrestrial TV, cable TV, satellite TV, on-demand TV, online TV, teletext, commercial radio, community radio, online radio

Those broadcasting radio and TV shall use the designation for their broadcasts that have been approved by the Swedish Broadcasting Authority. The designation shall be shown at least once every broadcast hour or, if this is not possible, between programmes. 

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Advertising

May broadcast advertising

  • Satellite broadcasts
  • TV on demand
  • Cable TV
  • Teletext
  • Community radio (not including community radio associations)

These broadcasts may contain advertising, and must adhere to the regulations regarding the placement, duration and signature of advertisements. The regulations do not apply to those advertisements the broadcasters air for their self-advertising. Advertisements may not be aimed at children under the age of twelve. Alcohol and tobacco advertisements are also prohibited.

May not broadcast advertising

  • Community radio associations
  • Cable organisations
  • The public service companies

These broadcasting formats may not contain any advertising. The regulations do not apply to those advertisements the broadcaster airs for their own programming activities, known as self-advertising.

Advertisement duration

Advertisements may be broadcast for a maximum of twelve minutes per hour on the clock. Each individual advertisement block must in general be at least one minute long.

In commercial radio, if the duration of the broadcast does not encompass one full hour, advertisements may be aired during a maximum of 15 percent of the air time.

There are no regulations pertaining to how much advertising may be broadcast in on-demand TV.

Placement of advertisements

Most programmes may be interrupted for advertisements, if it takes into account natural breaks in the programme and its duration and nature does not influence either the programme's integrity or its value or violates the rights holders' rights.

Advertisements may be broadcast on community radio. A community radio association may not, however, air advertisements (see below under Special regulations for community radio associations).

In addition, the following shall also apply:

  • Broadcasting of news programmes, feature films and films produced for TV, with the exception of TV series and documentaries, may be interrupted by advertisements once every scheduled period of at least thirty minutes.
  • Advertisements may not interrupt or occur immediately before or after programmes or a part of a programme primarily aimed at children under twelve. Nor is it permitted for advertisements to interrupt religious services.
  • Advertisement may not feature people who play a prominent role in programmes that focus primarily on news or news commentary.

 On-demand TV programmes may be interrupted by advertisements.

Advertisement signature

Before and after each advertisement, a special signature should be heard that clearly separates the advertisements from other broadcasts. In television the signature should be comprised of both audio and video. When breaking for advertising in radio, the word reklam (advertisements) should be included in the signature.

The Radio and Television Act also contains regulations on:

  • split screen advertising
  • virtual advertising in sports programmes
  • electronic company signs in sports and game shows.

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Sponsorship

Applies to: Public service, terrestrial TV, cable TV, satellite TV, on-demand TV, online TV, teletext, commercial radio, community radio, online radio

Programmes that focus primarily on news or contain news commentary may not be sponsored.

Programmes may not be sponsored by a company that mainly produces or sells alcohol or tobacco. If pharmaceutical companies sponsor programmes, the sponsorship may not promote prescription medication and medical treatment available on prescription.

The sponsorship message shall be shown at the start and/or the end of the programme. If a clearly defined part of the programme is sponsored, the message should be shown at the beginning or at the end of this part.

The message should contain the sponsor's name, logo or other distinctive mark. The sponsorship message may not contain promotional elements.

Applies to: The public service companies

UR's programmes may not be sponsored. SVT and SR have strict limitations with regards to sponsorship. They may for example acquire sponsorships for the Eurovision Song Contest arrangements. SVT may also acquire sponsorships for broadcasts in conjunction with certain sporting events. A message that the programme is sponsored shall be announced in an appropriate manner at the start and/or end of the programme. Sponsorship messages shall be brief and neutral in format. 

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Product placement

Applies to: Public service, terrestrial TV, cable TV, satellite TV, online TV

The rules on product placement apply to TV broadcasts. Product placement is permitted in films, TV series, sports programmes and light entertainment programmes, provided the programme is not primarily intended for children under the age of twelve.

Product placement may lead to undue prominence of commercial interests. There are also limitations on the types of products that may be placed. Information on the use of product placement shall be presented at the start and end of the programme and following advertisement breaks. The information shall only comprise a neutral announcement that the programme contains product placement and the information about which product or service that has been placed.

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Other conditions

TV4

Several of the channels in TV4 have certain requirements for subtitling of programmes. Some of TV4's channels also have requirements to broadcast regional programmes.

Special regulations for community radio associations

A community radio association is a union of several licence holders in one broadcast area with common community radio objectives. A broadcast area for community radio usually encompasses one municipality. The community radio associations' programmes may only contain

  1. broadcasts from events of common interest to the licence holders
  2. limited information about municipal activities
  3. information about programmes, programme times and other notices regarding community radio activities in the community
  4. some test broadcasts of programmes

A community radio association may not broadcast advertisements or sponsored programmes.

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Last updated 12/6/2016