Are Sweden's public broadcasters in danger?

Representatives of the right-wing populist Sweden Democrats have called for the sale of parts of the public television broadcaster SVT and radio broadcaster SR. The youth association of the conservatives in Stockholm has gone a step further and evoked the possibility of abolishing the public broadcasters altogether. The press is divided over the proposals.

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Dagens Nyheter (SE) /

People could lose their trust

The demands pose a threat to press freedom, Dagens Nyheter fears:

“Two things about these harsh demands are disquieting. Firstly, this agitation could undermine the current broad-based political support for the public broadcasters, and also the high level of trust that these institutions enjoy among the Swedish people. Secondly, there is the danger that the attacks will make journalists uneasy. And that can lead to self-censorship and political deference.”

Svenska Dagbladet (SE) /

No arguments against abolition

Contrary to the claims of the social democratic foreign minister Margot Wallström, the partial sale of the public broadcasters does not pose a problem for democracy, argues Janerik Larsson in Svenska Dagbladet:

“It's strange that the very same media that are preventing the healthy development of the media sector because they receive state subsidies are so respected. ... I couldn't come up with a single good argument for why we still need public broadcasters. To my knowledge there are no solid arguments. In the last century, whenever the head of government was a social democrat the social democrats have considered it justified to have their own monopoly on the airwaves. But does this still hold in 2019?”