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3D illustration of media in Sweden in our blog about the Swedish media landscape

Media In Sweden: Media Landscape Guide

Charles Ayling

Nov 7, 2023

Sweden is a key player in Scandinavian media, with regional media conglomerates Bonnier and Modern Times Group (MTG) headquartered there. It was also the first country to introduce press freedom laws in 1766.

The country’s media system is based on public service broadcasters' dominance and high newspaper penetration. While press circulation figures remain among the highest in the world, overall consumption of broadcast media has fallen marginally over the last five years.

Simultaneously, internet penetration and computer use are among the greatest in the world. Digitization appears to have had a far greater impact on general media preferences than on news media preferences. Also, commercial media appears to have won the struggle for entertainment (movies, sports, and drama), but public radio and television in Sweden have maintained their status as trustworthy and reliable news providers.

Moreover, television news reaches 83% of the population daily, and SVT, Sveriges Radio (Radio of Sweden), and TV4—the largest private station—remain the most trusted sources. In terms of media ownership, the dominating trend in the newspaper and television markets is national concentration.

Read along as we discuss more about the media landscape in Sweden along with the top media channels in the country.

Here is a list of what we’ll cover in detail:

Tip: Take a look at digital and social media statistics for Sweden.

What Is The Media Landscape In Sweden Like?

According to the most recent data, video, including TV and streaming, dominates daily media consumption in Sweden. As of 2022, 93% of those polled in the country said they utilized it every day. Social media climbed to second place with 84%, while radio rounded out the top three with 78%. The rise in social media use, which has exceeded music listening and radio consumption, reflects the growing popularity of digital entertainment and pleasures in Sweden.

In addition, video streaming in Sweden is on the rise, with 61% of Swedes using video streaming services in the most recent quarter.

In terms of press media, daily newspapers account for only 2% of media time in Sweden. In comparison, during the last 10 years, the daily reach of newspapers on the internet has more than tripled. This move is consistent with the global trend of replacing print publications with digital, more accessible alternatives.

Let's go more into depth.

Social Media Use vs. Population graph showing information about Swedish media

Who Owns The Media In Sweden?

Media ownership in Sweden is characterized by a mix of publicly funded outlets, commercial media companies, and various stakeholders. Public service broadcasting is provided by Sveriges Television (SVT), Sveriges Radio (SR), and Utbildningsradion (UR).

Private companies also play a significant role in the media industry.

What Media Houses Are In Sweden?

Prominent media houses in Sweden include:

  • Bonnier Group: Bonnier is one of the largest and most influential media conglomerates in Sweden, with a significant presence in the newspaper, magazine, and book publishing sectors.
  • Schibsted: Schibsted, a Norwegian media company, owns media outlets in Sweden, including the tabloid Aftonbladet.
  • Amedia: Amedia is another Norwegian media company with a presence in the Swedish media market.
  • Swedish Radio and Television (SVT): SVT is a public service broadcaster with a broad range of television and radio channels.
  • Swedish Broadcasting Corporation (SR): SR is another public service broadcaster, operating radio channels in Sweden.
  • Modern Times Group (MTG): MTG is a media company with interests in TV broadcasting and E-sports.
  • Stampen Group: The Stampen Group is a media company with a focus on regional newspapers and magazines.
  • Expressen Group: Expressen is a significant player in the Swedish tabloid market, and it's owned by the Bonnier Group.

What Are The Largest Media Companies In Sweden?

The largest media companies in Sweden, in terms of market influence and reach, include:

  1. Bonnier Group
  2. Schibsted
  3. Swedish Radio and Television (SVT)
  4. Swedish Broadcasting Corporation (SR)

At the start of 2023, Sweden had almost 10.3 million Internet users, accounting for 97% of the population.

Digital 2023 Sweden - digital statistics report

Also, Facebook was the most widely used social networking platform.

Tip: For more interesting statistics like these, take a look at digital and social media statistics for Sweden.

Media Legislation in Sweden

Sweden, the world's first country to pass a press freedom statute, has always valued media independence.

This means that there is no law in Sweden prohibiting the concentration of media ownership. However, there are still some rules that the media should abide by; which we discuss in this section. Let’s dive in!

The Swedish Press and Broadcasting Authority has an independent broadcasting commission that regulates public media, and an independent media ombudsman receives complaints about ethical issues. Journalistic sources are legally protected, and access to public information is a pillar of Swedish democracy.

However, constitutional modifications intended at preserving information in international relations have sparked concerns about prospective punishments against whistleblowers and media who expose misconduct.

Regulatory Authorities for Media in Sweden

Swedish media policy is overseen by the Ministry of Culture and managed by the Authority for press, radio, and television. This authority handles subsidies for the daily press, issues licenses for commercial television and radio, and directly grants broadcasting licenses for public service companies.

For cable and satellite television in Sweden, no license is required, but broadcasters must register their activities. Internet sites can also be registered with the Authority for legal protection. Additionally, the Swedish Post and Telecom Agency (PTS) is a government organization that monitors electronic communications and postal sectors.

PTS deals with issues like telephony, internet, and radio, ensuring competition, efficient resource use, and secure communications. It supervises telecom operators, analyzes market trends, and allocates number series to operators.

Accountability System for Swedish Media

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The Swedish media accountability system has a long, evolving history. It consists of three sets of rules:

  1. Publicity rules:
    These rules ensure fair reporting, respect for privacy, interviewee rights, the right to reply, and the treatment of images. They are the oldest part of the code of conduct.
  2. Rules of professional journalism:
    These rules govern the conduct of journalists, covering their integrity, assignments, source relationships, and more. They are established by the Association of Swedish Journalists (SJF).
  3. Editorial advertising guidelines:
    These guidelines address the relationship between advertising and editorial content. They emphasize that news should be based on news value, not advertising value, and that advertising should be distinguishable from editorial content.

What’s surprising is that all these rules are voluntary and are established by independent organizations to avoid the need for legislation in Sweden. The Press Council and Press Ombudsman oversee the publicity rules, while a committee appointed by the SJF board supervises the rules of professional journalism. There is also a council for cooperation in media accountability.

What Are Common Media Channels In Sweden?

Illustration of news sites and media in Sweden

Five media firms own a huge portion of the country's newspapers (Dagens Nyheter, Aftonbladet, TV4, and so on). The audiovisual industry is considerably more concentrated, with four television and three radio organizations dominating the market (this includes publicly owned media).

At the same time, approximately one in every five communities lacks a presence of local media, prompting additional investments from both the public and private sectors.

Here is a little more detail about the common media channels in Sweden:

Swedish Newspapers

In Sweden, there are over 150 printed newspapers, practically all of which have an online edition. However, approximately 60 of those are published only once or twice a week and have a modest circulation. Most newspapers are subscription-based, either locally or regionally, with home delivery in the early morning.

The Swedish print newspaper market can be divided into five main segments:

  1. Metropolitan subscribed morning papers: High-quality dailies published in Stockholm, Gothenburg, and Malmö. These papers are published seven days a week and include Dagens Nyheter in Stockholm, Göteborgs-Posten in Göteborg, and Sydsvenskan in Malmö.
  2. Tabloids: Entertainment-focused dailies published in Stockholm, including Aftonbladet and Expressen. While the main focus is entertainment, they also feature a debate on culture, opinion material, and investigative journalism.
  3. Regional and local morning papers: Papers that are published at least three times a week and cover different regions of Sweden. Some of the largest in this group include Helsingborgs Dagblad in Helsingborg, Dalarnas Tidningar in Falun, and Nerikes Allehanda in Rebro. 
  4. Low-frequency papers: General newspapers that are issued once or twice a week and are often subsidized.
  5. Freely distributed newspapers: These newspapers are provided for free and contain a variety of material. The free daily Metro, which is published five days a week, is the largest newspaper in this segment.

What Is The Biggest Newspaper In Sweden?

The most successful newspaper in terms of digital audience sales is the tabloid Aftonbladet, whose 'Plus' service has more than one million digital subscribers. Aftonbladet is swiftly approaching its goal of being the first Swedish daily to generate the majority of its revenue through digital sales.

Furthermore, there are a few national specialist papers, such as the business daily Dagens Industri and the small Christian daily Dagen. A few more Sweden newspapers catered to non-native individuals are:

  1. Aftonbladet - Stockholm-based daily
  2. Goteborgs Posten - Gothenburg-based daily
  3. Sydsvenskan - Malmö-based daily
  4. The Local - English-language online news
Illustration of a Swedish newspaper
  • Almost all social groups read newspapers; but, since the turn of the century, a growing divide has formed between young and old people - the old prefer printed newspapers, while younger people increasingly get their news via social media.
  • On a typical day, 55% of subscribers read a morning paper, which is 19 % age points lower than ten years ago. Only 44% read the printed edition, 7% only the digital edition, and 4% read both.
  • The trend for tabloids is the opposite: 27% read a tabloid daily, whereas 20% read just online, 6% only in print, and 1% mix.
  • Daily newspaper printed editions generated 2.09 billion Swedish kronor in advertising expenses in Sweden in 2021, down from 2.74 billion in 2019. The figures for digital versions were 2.02 billion and 1.87 billion kronor, respectively.

What Is The Biggest News Company In Sweden?

In terms of revenue, the Bonnier Group, which owns five of the country's leading newspapers, is the dominant player in the Swedish newspaper business.

Mittmedia comes in second with 22 local newspapers, and the Swedish division of the Norwegian Schibsted Group comes in third with two titles, including Aftonbladet.

Swedish Television

3D Illustration of a light bulb in front of a TV

Bonnier, MTG, and Discovery Communications own a sizable portion of the Swedish commercial television market, making it one of the most consolidated in Europe in terms of ownership.

Furthermore, Sveriges Television (Swedish Television - SVT) organizes public service television and transmits through three primary channels:

  1. SVT1
  2. SVT2
  3. Barnkanalen (The Children's Channel). 

SVT1 is the more popular and broad channel, whilst SVT2 and The Children's Channel are more specialized.

Furthermore, TV4 (with 28% of the TV market in 2022) is the leading commercial television channel, competing largely with several satellite channels, the largest of which are:

  1. TV4 (28%)
  2. Kanal 5 (5.1%)
  3. TV3 (4%)
  4. Sjuan (3.6%)
  5. TV8 (3.1%)
  6. TV6 (3%)

Of these, only TV4 and TV6 are so-called free channels, which, along with public service channels, are available for free on the terrestrial network. In terms of programming profile, TV4 is the most diverse commercial channel, whereas the others are virtually entirely focused on entertainment. 

Swedish Radio

Photo of headphones and a microphone

Sveriges Radio (Swedish Radio) is the major player in the radio market, accounting for 75% of the radio audience market. It has three national channels and one regional channel:

  • P1 (politics, culture, and the news)
  • P2 (classical music)
  • P3 (youth)
  • P4 (regional)

P4 broadcasts news and current affairs programming in 25 regions, as well as some national programming such as news and sports. It is aimed at people over the age of 40 and is the individual Swedish radio channel with the greatest ratings (about 30% in 2015).

Furthermore, public service radio is supported by a license fee and no advertising is permitted. There are approximately 100 local broadcasting licenses for commercial radio, with Bauer Media controlling almost 75 of them.

On any given day, 70% of the population listens to radio, a figure that has been consistent for decades. However, listening time has declined dramatically over time, falling from 3 hours per day in the mid-1980s to 94 minutes per day in 2022. The rise of MP3 players and music streaming services like Spotify is most likely to blame.

Some other popular Sweden radio stations are:

  • Rix FM - commercial, music
  • Mix Megapol - commercial, music
  • NRJ - commercial, music

Social Networks in Sweden

Internet penetration in Sweden is high, as it is in many Nordic nations, with approximately 95% of the population having access to the internet. This could be due to the widespread possession of digital gadgets; over 90% own a computer, 75% own a smartphone, and 60% own a tablet.

On an average day, Swedes use social media more than traditional media online, regardless of device: 52% and 34%, respectively. In general, the most popular networks are Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube.

However, there are variances among young people. Instagram is by far the most popular social media network among children aged 9 to 16, but for older ages, Facebook reigns victorious. Snapchat and Twitter are also popular among teenagers.

Also, it is challenging to determine the precise impact of Google and Facebook because they are multinational corporations that do not disclose their earnings for activities in particular countries.

Media in Sweden - Wrapping Up

It's important to note that the media landscape is dynamic, and the popularity of specific media outlets and platforms may change over time, influenced by evolving consumer preferences and technological advancements.

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