Regulations on accessibility
Television programmes and on-demand services must be made accessible to people with functional impairments to varying degrees. New requirements decided upon by the Swedish Press and Broadcasting Authority are applicable from 1 September 2023. These requirements are divided into specific requirements and promotion requirements.
Requirements for media service providers
We decide on the requirements for media service providers to make television broadcasts and video-on-demand (VOD) services accessible. However, we do not make demands of public service broadcasters – their requirements are decided upon by the Government. The requirements apply to programmes in Swedish aimed at a Swedish audience. If the programmes are directed to other countries within Europe, certain requirements are also imposed in languages other than Swedish. As a provider, you are subject to either specific requirements or promotion requirements.
Summary of new requirements, 2023
From 1 September 2023, new accessibility requirements will apply to TV broadcasts and on-demand services. Here is a summary:
- The requirements cover linear TV services and on-demand services.
- The decisions will apply from 1 September 2023 to 31 August 2026.
- The requirements must be met during the following three periods:
- 1 September 2023–31 August 2024 (period 1)
- 1 September 2024–31 August 2025 (period 2)
- 1 September 2025–31 August 2026 (period 3)
- After each period, the provider must report on how the requirements have been met and attach an action plan describing how the accessibility of the service is to be increased.
- Linear TV services and on-demand services aimed at a Swedish audience and with a viewing time share of one per cent or more are subject to specific requirements. The requirements will be set on the basis of quotas calculated as a proportion of the broadcasting time of a programme service in respect of linear TV services and on the basis of the number of programmes in the case of on-demand services.
- Services with a viewing time share of less than one per cent are subject to a general requirement to promote the accessibility of linear broadcasts and on-demand services.
- The promotion requirement also applies in certain cases when the services originate in Sweden but are directed to other EEA countries.
The Authority reviews annually whether additional channels/VOD services should be subject to the requirements, but also whether the level of requirements should be changed for channels/VOD services to which the requirements already apply.
Linear TV services and on-demand services aimed at a Swedish audience and with a viewing time share of one per cent or more are subject to specific requirements.
The following channels and play services are subject to specific accessibility requirements.
- TV4 Play
- HBO Max (Norden)
|Technology||Coverage, as a percentage*||How and where the requirements are to be met|
|Subtitling of prerecorded programmes||100||This requirement must be met on all platforms where the TV service is distributed.|
|Subtitling of live programmes||60 (period 1), 60 (period 2), 65 (period 3)||This requirement must be met on all platforms where the TV service is distributed.|
|Sign language interpretation||
|Interpreting must take place on one of the platforms on which the TV service is distributed or in VOD service while the programme is being broadcast linearly.|
|Audio description||10||The description must be provided on one of the platforms on which the TV service is distributed or in VOD service/ on a separate audio track while the programme is being broadcast linearly.|
TV4 AB - 20
This requirement must be met on all platforms where the TV service is distributed.
The requirement can also be met by providing spoken text as a separate audio track while the programme is being broadcast linearly.
*The proportion of broadcasting time for programmes in Swedish is calculated for subtitling and interpreting/audio descriptions. The proportion of broadcasting time for programmes in other languages with Swedish translation subtitles is calculated for spoken text.
Live sports broadcasts (matches and competitions) or reruns of such sports are not subject to the quantitative requirements if there are no technical or practical conditions for making these broadcasts accessible. In such cases, the provider must strive to make the broadcasts accessible.
Specific requirements for TV4 Play and Viaplay.se
All programmes in Swedish published on the on-demand TV service during the decision period must be subtitled. For Viaplay there is an exception when it comes to programmes aimed at children under six years of age. The requirement also does not apply to live online broadcasts or live sports broadcasts which are then made available on the on-demand service if they cannot be made accessible for technical or practical reasons.
Audio descriptions and sign language interpretation
TV4 AB and Viaplay are free to decide for themselves whether the interpretation/audio description requirements are to be fulfilled in the linear TV service or by providing the interpretation/audio description on TV4 Play or Viaplay while the programme is being broadcast linearly.
If a programme has been interpreted/provided with an audio description in a linear TV service of this kind, it must also be made accessible in the same way in TV4 Play and Viaplay.se if the programme is also provided there. The requirement for audio descriptions may be met by providing the service as an audio track on a separate device such as a mobile phone or tablet.
The number of programmes with Swedish translation text made available by spoken text must increase annually during the decision period, unless there are special reasons for not doing so. The requirement for spoken text may be met by providing the service as an audio track on a separate device such as a mobile phone or tablet.
Specific requirements for HBO Max
All programmes in Swedish published on HBO Max during the decision period must be subtitled. For HBO Max there is an exception when it comes to programmes aimed at children under six years of age.
Audio descriptions and sign language interpretation
The supply of programmes with audio descriptions or sign language interpretation must increase annually during the decision period unless there are special reasons for not doing so. The requirement for audio descriptions may be met by providing the service as an audio track on a separate device such as a mobile phone or tablet.
The number of programmes with Swedish translation text made available by spoken text must increase annually during the decision period in the same way that applies for TV Play and Viaplay.se.
Cost limit for services with specific requirements
The obligation to make programmes accessible need not be fulfilled to the extent that the costs of making them accessible exceed one per cent of the net turnover of the service in question.
Requirements to promote accessibility
Broadcasters and providers whose channels and services are subject to the lower level of requirements have an obligation to promote the accessibility of their television broadcasts and on-demand services in Swedish for people with functional impairment.
Promotion requirements may also apply to broadcasts to other countries
The promotion requirement applies to Swedish broadcasters and providers that broadcast/provide programmes in Swedish. However, the promotion requirement may also apply to broadcasts/services directed to other European countries. This requirement applies if both of the following criteria are met:
- The provider is established in Sweden or uses Swedish satellite capacity and is therefore subject to Swedish law.
- The content is in an official language of the country to which the broadcast is addressed.
Promotion does not mean that all programmes must be made accessible, but it is up to the broadcasters themselves to decide on the extent and which of the accessibility technologies are to be used. At least some programmes must be made accessible during the year. This could mean, for example, that some programmes in Swedish are broadcast with subtitles every year.
Requirements to promote accessibility for linear broadcasts and video-on-demand
Where technically feasible, media service providers must promote the accessibility of their programmes in Swedish by means of subtitling, sign language interpretation and/or audio descriptions. The promotion requirement can also be met by offering spoken text technology for programmes in other languages with Swedish translation subtitles.
Providers are free to decide which of the techniques to use, but at least some programmes must be made accessible using one of the techniques during each period. The number of programmes must then increase in the following periods. If the linear programme service is distributed on several platforms, the provider may decide on which platform(s) the programmes are to be made accessible.
Requirements for public service broadcasters
SVT and UR must make programmes accessible by means of subtitling, sign language interpreting, audio descriptions and spoken text. The scope of the requirements is decided by the Government.
Communications of public importance
As of 1 December 2020, a new provision is applicable in the Radio and Television Act which requires any media service provider who broadcasts communications of public interest on television at the request of a public Authority to formulate the communications as soon as possible so that they are accessible to people with functional impairment. This means that the communication must be made accessible by means of subtitling, sign language interpreting, audio descriptions, spoken text or similar techniques. This obligation applies to SVT and also to other Swedish broadcasters with licences to broadcast television in the terrestrial network, which are required to broadcast what are known as public service announcements (PSAs) in their broadcasting licences. There is no corresponding obligation to ensure accessibility for public service announcements broadcast on radio.