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Sweden: Regulatory Authorities

Swedish Press Council (Pressens Opinionsnämnd, PON)

The Press Ombudsman (PO) and the Press Council (PON) are independent self-disciplinary bodies which deals with complaints about the editorial content of newspapers, magazines and their websites. The complainant must be personally affected (i.e., identified in some way) by the publicity and the complaint should be made in three month time from the publicity. Companies, government authorities and organisations can also file complaints. The remedy for such institutional complaints is the right to reply or the right of a correction.

The self-disciplinary system of the Swedish press is not based on legislation. It is entirely voluntary and wholly financed by four press organisations: The Swedish Newspaper Publishers’ Association, The Magazine Publishers’ Association, The Swedish Union of Journalists and The National Press Club. These organisations are also responsible for drawing up the Code of Ethics for Press, Radio and Television in Sweden.

The Swedish Press Council (Pressens Opinionsnämnd, PON), founded in 1916, is the oldest tribunal of its kind in the world. The Press Council is composed of a judge, who acts as chairman, one representative from each of the above-mentioned press organisations and three representatives of the general public who are not allowed to have any ties to the newspaper business or to the press organisations.

The office of the Press Ombudsman (Allmänhetens Pressombudsman, PO) was established in 1969. Its holder is appointed by a special committee consisting of the Chief Parliamentary Ombudsman (JO), the chairman of the Swedish Bar Association and the chairman of the National Press Club.

In recent years, 350-400 complaints have been registered annually. These often concern coverage of criminal matters and invasion of privacy. About 30% of the complaints have been reviewed by the Press Council either on PO’s demand or, if PO has written off the case, on appeal by the complainant. The remainder, which constitute the large majority of complaints, have been written off for various reasons, e.g. because the complaints were unsubstantiated or the newspaper printed a correction or a reply. 10-15% of all complaints have resulted in formal criticism of the newspaper in question by the Press Council.

Swedish Press Council (Pressens Opinionsnämnd, PON)
Street address: Kungsgatan 62, Stockholm
Postal address: Box 223 10 – 104 22 Stockholm
Tel: 08 – 692 46 20
Email: po@po.se

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The research leading to this website has received funding from the European Union Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013) under grant agreement No. 244147.