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Sweden: State Media Illegally Promoted Leading Social Media Sites

(Oct. 6, 2017) On September 20, 2017, the Stockholm Administrative Court of Appeal issued a judgment in which it found that the Swedish state media organization Sveriges Television (SVT ) had inappropriately favored social media sites Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram by encouraging its viewers to use these social media platforms.  (Press Release, SVT har otillbörligt gynnat vissa sociala medier [SVT Has Improperly Benefited Some Social Media], Kammarrätten i Stockholm [Stockholm Administrative Court of Appeal] website, (Sept. 20, 2017); Case 3564-17 , Kammarrätten i Stockholm  website (Sept. 20, 2017).)  The Swedish  Radio and TV Act provides that broadcast programs that are not commercials may not improperly or unduly promote ( otillbörligt gynna ) commercial interests, and if they do, the producer can be fined between SEK500 (about US$62) and SEK5,000,000 (about US$620,000).  ( 5 kap. 5 §, 17 kap. 5 & 6 §§ Radio- och tvlagen [Radio and TV Act] (Svensk författningssamling [SFS] 2010:696), Parliament website.)
The case was brought by the Swedish Broadcasting Commission ( Granskningsnämnden för radio och TV ), which recommended that SVT be fined SEK25,000 (about US$3,085), an amount at the lower end of the fine spectrum.  The Svea Court of Administrative Appeal agreed with the Commission.  It wrote that although there is a public interest in knowing where information about SVT’s service can be located, here the SVT went beyond that interest by displaying the characteristic logotypes of the media platforms and calling upon its viewers to visit these platforms.  (Case 3564-17, at 3.)
The fine imposed is to be paid to the Swedish Press and Broadcasting Authority ( Myndigheten för press, radio och tv ).  (17 kap. 7 § Radio- och tvlagen.)

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