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Public service television in Sweden - Statistics & Facts

Public service television includes every TV broadcaster that is publicly funded. Its mission is to inform everyone regardless of their sociocultural background. In Sweden, there are two public service television broadcasters: Sveriges Television AB (SVT) and the Swedish Educational Broadcasting Corporation (UR). SVT and UR operates the TV stations SVT1, SVT2, SVT24, Barnkanalen (children’s channel), as well as Kunskapskanalen (science channel). According to Mediamätning i Skandinavien, SVT1 reached the highest audience share of 25.6 percent in 2019. The second most watched public TV channel was SVT2 – the audience share was 6.4 percent that year. The overall market share of Sveriges Television’s channels remained stable in the past ten years, amounting to 35 percent as of 2018.

Public service broadcasting is based on the concept that the state will inform, entertain, and educate its population, and UR has always fulfilled this role. It produces educational programs, especially for children and young people. As of 2019, the air time of new telecasts for this target group amounted to more than 100 hours, broadcasted on Barnkanalen and Kunskapskanalen. Regarding topics, society and economy had by far the largest air time share at 873 hours. By contrast, mathematics accounted for the smallest air time share, with only 27 hours during the whole year.

Sveriges Television, the Swedish Educational Broadcasting Corporation, as well as the public radio broadcaster Sveriges Radio AB were funded by license fees paid per household until the end of 2018. In the past ten years, annual TV and radio license fees increased in Sweden, reaching 2,400 Swedish kronor as of 2018. Most of the total license fee yields went to SVT in 2016 (roughly 4.77 billion Swedish kronor). Sveriges Radio got approximately 2.84 billion Swedish kronor, while the UR’s yields amounted to only 411.2 million Swedish kronor.

Television and radio licenses have been discussed for many years. A survey conducted by the SOM Institute in 2018 found that 16 percent of Swedish respondents stated that the license fee is very much worth the money, whereas 22 percent of individuals did not think that public broadcasting is worth the money at all. Particularly young people were not convinced by this concept – more than half of 16 to 29-year-olds stated the radio and TV license fee to be not worth the money. In comparison, the share of 65 to 85-year-olds was 34 percent.

From January 1, 2019, the general license fee was replaced by a fee charged through taxes.


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