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Swedish opposition party calls for slashed spending on 'biased' public broadcaster

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Swedish opposition party calls for slashed spending on 'biased' public broadcaster
Moderate leader Ulf Kristersson makes his speech at the party's annual meeting in Västerås. Photo: Linus Svensson/TT
09:12 CEST+02:00
Sweden's conservative Moderate party wants to reduce funding for the country's public TV and radio broadcasters, and to launch an inquiry into alleged left-wing bias.
At the party's national meeting in Västerås, members voted to set up a working group to investigate how TV broadcaster SVT, radio broadcaster SR and educational channel UR, could in future be "shrunk, tightened up, and made more relevant from a public service perspective". 
 
"The chief problem is that public service has a left-wing bias," Moderate MP Edward Riedl argued in the debate on public service broadcasters held at the meeting. 
 
Matilda Ekeblad, a representative from Östergötland, complained that too many programmes on Sweden's public broadcasters were light entertainment which brought no clear public benefit. "I don't want to pay for overweight dogs or how priests find love," she said. 
 
Some in the debate called for the three public service broadcasters to be abolished, while others regretted the Moderate Party's support for a recent decision to abolish the TV license, replacing it with an extra tax imposed on all working people. 
 
At the meeting, members ruled that the party's position should be that broadcasters should still be paid for by the taxpayer, although they should absorb "substantially less tax revenues" than at present. 
 
The Moderates are Sweden's largest opposition party with 70 out of 349 seats in parliament.
 
Annicka Engblom, another MP, told the meeting she had run up against a brick wall when she held meetings with public service broadcasters about their supposed left-wing bias, with the broadcasters' leadership refusing to take the party's complaints seriously. 
 
Lars Nord, professor of media and communications at Mid Sweden University in Sundsvall, told Sweden's TT newswire that researchers in Sweden had in fact found little to support the perception of left-wing bias.  
 
"When we study the political content, particularly around election campaigns, which has continued for many years in Sweden, you can't find any ongoing trend that would mean that someone, for example the Moderates, would suffer as a result of the coverage," he said. 
 
"There are no signs that the media, and in particular the public service media, systematically takes a partisan angle, although whenever you make come sort of choice, one party or another may come out for the worse, depending on whether you are involved in some scandal or another." 

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