By: Christian Haag
December 9 2022
No, Swedish public television is owned by the Foundation Förvaltningstiftelsen. Foundations in Sweden do not have owners.
In a series of video podcasts that have gone viral on TikTok, businessman and anti-vax advocate Anders Sydborg claimed that Swedish public television (SVT) is a private company owned by a private foundation whose real owners are kept secret.
Over the past few years, Anders Sydborg has become a prominent member of the Swedish anti-vaccination and 5G conspiracy movements.
It is true that a foundation owns all the shares of the three companies that form SVT. The foundation is called Förvaltningsstiftelsen (Foundation management for SR, SVT, and UR) and was created in 1997. The companies owned by the foundation are Sveriges Radio, Sveriges Television, and och Utbildningsradion (Swedish Educational Broadcasting Company).
However, foundations in Sweden do not have owners or members but are run by a board of directors. Logically contacted the Stockholm Länstyrelsen (Stockholm County administrative board), the supervisory authority for foundations in respective counties in Sweden. They confirm that a foundation is characterized as an independent and self-owned asset. A foundation has no owners.
In this case, Förvaltningstiftelsen was created to be a buffer between public service companies and the government. Since the foundation owns all shares, public service companies retain their independence from the State and corporate interests. The Swedish government formally appoints the board of Förvaltningsstitelsen after a proposal from the political parties in the Swedish Riksdag. Since 2020, board members cannot be active members of the Riksdag. The board of the Förvaltningsstiftelsen then appoints the boards of the three respective companies and has no influence over the programs or content produced. The SVT is funded by the Public Service fee, which is levied from the taxes of everyone liable for taxation from the age of 18. As such, it is not a private company but a non-governmental organization combined with public sector elements.
Since Swedish foundations do not have owners, the claim that SVT is a private company with hidden owners is false.