P4 Stockholm, my “adopted” Swedish radio station, may be noteworthy for its news, music and other programming, but one feature the listener won’t find here — or indeed, on most Swedish radio stations — is advertising. One might listen to this or any number of other Swedish stations by the hour without hearing a single commercial.
If Swedish radio stations, by and large, never air commercials, how do they get the funding they need to stay on the air? Sveriges Radio AB, originally founded in 1925 as AB Radiotjänst (radio service company) and serving as the Swedish counterpart of the UK’s British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), plays a key role in this. A public limited company, this entity receives its funding through a licensing fee determined by the Swedish Riksdag (parliament). Under such circumstances, advertising through Sveriges Radio is neither needed nor permitted.
Moreover, public service media, including radio stations, get their funding not through the kind of National Public Radio-style pledge breaks with which public radio fans in the U.S. have long since become familiar but through a tax imposed on all who own a TV or radio receiver.
That’s not to say no private commercial radio stations exist in Sweden. However, in that country they arrived relatively late on the scene; they weren’t even available until 1993. I have not yet come across statistics on Swedish commercial radio stations versus those free of advertising, but even today the percentage of such stations does not seem to be high in Sweden compared to the U.S.
European Journalism Centre. Media Landscapes: Sweden (http://ejc.net/media_landscapes/sweden)
Media of Sweden Wikipedia entry (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Media_of_Sweden)
Press Reference entry for Sweden (http://www.pressreference.com/Sw-Ur/Sweden.html)
Sveriges Radio Wikipedia entry (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sveriges_Radio)