Periodicals

Periodicals in Europe

Publiction of Periodicals and Press Freedom in Sweden

Note: see also the information about the production of Printed Materials in Sweden here.

In the Swedish Constitution: The Freedom of the Press Act (SFS nr: 1949:105)

In addition to the Instrument of Government, Sweden has three fundamental laws (Sveriges Grundlagar): the Act of Succession, the Freedom of the Press Act, which covers the publication of periodicals, and the Fundamental Law on Freedom of Expression. The Riksdag Act occupies an intermediate position between a fundamental law and ordinary law. The four fundamental laws of the country act in a similar manner to the constitutions of most countries.

Freedom of the Press Act

The most recent Freedom of the Press Act was adopted in 1949 although Sweden established freedom of the press by law as early as 1766 and was first in the world to do so, at least according to its government. Freedom of the press means the right to disseminate information in printed form but with accountability before the law. Another feature of the Freedom of the Press Act is the citizens right to study public documents, and the principle of public access to official documents.

On joining the Eropean Union, Sweden was therefore obliged to make a few minor adjustments to the fundamental laws. For example, the Freedom of the Press Act was amended to enable the prohibition of advertisements for breast milk substitutes.

Chapter 5 of the Freedom of the Press Act has the heading “On the Production of Printed Materials”. Here are the content of Chapter 5:

  • Article 1 provides the following: The owner of a periodical shall be a Swedish citizen or Swedish legal person. It may be provided in law that also a foreign national or foreign legal person may be the owner of such a publication. (see more about the Constitution of Sweden here)
  • Article 2 provides the following: A periodical shall have a responsible editor. The responsible editor shall be a Swedish citizen. It may be provided in law that also a foreign national may be a responsible editor. A responsible editor shall be domiciled within the Realm. No person who is a minor or an undischarged bankrupt, or for whom an administrator has been appointed under special provisions of law, may be a responsible editor.
  • Article 3 provides the following: The responsible editor of a periodical shall be appointed by the owner. The mandate of a responsible editor shall embrace the power to supervise the publication of the periodical and to determine the contents thereof in such a way that nothing may be printed therein against his will. Any restriction of the powers thus vested in a responsible editor shall be null and void.
  • Article 4 provides the following: Once a responsible editor has been appointed, it lies with the owner to notify the appointment to the public authority designated in law. The information furnished shall include the responsible editor’s name and place of domicile. It shall be accompanied by proof that the responsible editor has the required qualifications and a declaration from the responsible editor that he has accepted the appointment.
  • Article 5 provides the following: A periodical may not be published until a certificate has been issued stating that no impediment exists under this Act to prevent its publication. Such a certificate is issued, on an application from the owner, by the authority referred to in Article 4. The application shall indicate the title, place of publication and publishing schedule of the periodical. A certificate of no legal impediment to publication may not be issued until the name of a responsible editor has been notified under Article 4. An application for a certificate of no legal impediment to publication may be rejected if the title of the periodical so closely resembles the title of a periodical for which a certificate has already been issued that the two may easily be confused. A certificate of no legal impediment to publication is valid for ten years from the date of issue. The certificate lapses thereafter. The decision that a certificate shall be deemed to have lapsed after the expiry of the ten-year period is taken by the authority referred to in Article 4. The certificate may be renewed for ten years at a time, with effect from the expiry of the preceding ten-year period, on an application from the owner. An application for renewal may be made no sooner than one year before and no later than the expiry date. The same rules otherwise apply to an application for renewal of a certificate as applied in the case of the original application. If an application for renewal has been received in due time, the certificate shall continue to be valid, the provisions of paragraphs four and five notwithstanding, until the decision resulting from the application has acquired legal force.
  • Article 6 provides the following: A certificate of no legal impediment to publication may be rescinded 1. if the owner has given notice that publication of the periodical has ceased; 2. if the rights of ownership in the periodical have been transferred to a person who does not have the required qualifications; 3. if there is no responsible editor, or if the responsible editor does not have the required qualifications and a qualified responsible editor is not appointed forthwith; 4. if the periodical has not appeared within six months from the date on which the certificate of no legal impediment to publication was issued; 5. if at least four issues or instalments of the periodical specified in the certificate have not appeared at different times in either of the previous two calendar years; 6. if within six months from the appearance of the first issue it becomes apparent that a certificate should not have been issued under the provisions of Article 5, paragraph three; or 7. if the typographical appearance of the masthead of the periodical so resembles the masthead of another periodical for which a certificate has already been issued that the two may easily be confused and the matter is not rectified forthwith. A decision to rescind a certificate is taken by the authority referred to in Article 4. In matters under paragraph one, points 2 to 7, the owner and the responsible editor are afforded an opportunity, if possible, to put forward their views.
  • Article 7 provides the following: If a certificate of no legal impediment to publication has been rescinded on account of a circumstance under Article 6, paragraph one, point 2, 3, 5 or 7, or if the certificate has been declared to have lapsed, a certificate in respect of another periodical whose masthead so resembles the masthead of the original periodical that the two may easily be confused may not be issued without the owner’s consent, until two years have elapsed from the date on which the certificate was rescinded or lapsed.
  • Article 8 provides the following: If a responsible editor is no longer qualified, or if his appointment as a responsible editor has otherwise been terminated, it is incumbent upon the owner to provide forthwith for the appointment of a new responsible editor and to notify the appointment to the authority referred to in Article 4. The provisions of Article 4 apply to such notification, which shall be accompanied, if possible, by proof that the previous responsible editor has been informed of the notification of a new name. If the place of publication or the publishing schedule changes, the owner shall notify the authority referred to in Article 4 forthwith.
  • Article 9 provides the following: The responsible editor of a periodical may have one or more deputies. These deputies are appointed by the responsible editor. When a deputy is appointed, the authority referred to in Article 4 shall be notified accordingly. Notification shall be accompanied by proof that the deputy has the required qualifications for a responsible editor, by a declaration from the deputy that he has accepted the appointment and by a statement from the owner that he has approved the deputy. The provisions of Article 2, paragraphs two and three, apply in like manner to deputies. If the appointment of a responsible editor is terminated, an appointment as deputy also lapses.
  • Article 10 provides the following: Once the appointment of a deputy has been notified, the responsible editor may authorise such a deputy, or, if there are two or more deputies, any one of them, to exercise in his place the powers vested in the responsible editor under Article 3. If it can be presumed that a responsible editor will be continuously pre-vented for at least one month, by reason of ill health or for any other temporary cause, from exercising the powers vested 41 in him as responsible editor, he shall delegate these powers to a deputy forthwith. If no deputy exists, or if the appointment of the person or persons designated as a deputy or deputies is approaching termination, it shall be incumbent upon the responsible editor to provide as quickly as possible for the appointment of a deputy and to notify the appointment as laid down in Article 9.
  • Article 11 provides the following: The name of the responsible editor shall appear on each separate issue or instalment of a periodical. If the responsible editor’s powers have been delegated to a deputy, each issue or instalment of the periodical concerned shall state that the deputy is acting as responsible editor; if this is done, the name of the responsible editor need not be given as well.
  • Article 12 provides the following: If the owner of a periodical publishes the periodical without having a certificate of no legal impediment to publication, or without being qualified; or if the owner fails to provide for the appointment of a new responsible editor or notify such an appointment as laid down in Article 8; or if, in a case under Article 10, paragraph two, a responsible editor neglects to delegate his powers to a deputy; or if a person publishes a periodical the publication of which has been declared prohibited under this Act, or which is manifestly a continuation of such a periodical; or if a person allows his name to appear on a periodical as responsible editor or responsible deputy editor without being qualified; the penalty is a fine. If the contents of the periodical have been declared to be criminal, or if the circumstances are otherwise exceptionally aggravating, the penalty is imprisonment for up to one year.
  • Article 13 provides the following: The penalties specified in Article 12 apply also to a person who knowingly submits false information in an application or notification under this Chapter, or a declaration appended to such an application or notification.
  • Article 14 provides the following: If the owner of a periodical fails to report a new place of publication or a new publishing schedule under Article 8, the penalty is a money fine. If a responsible editor offends against the provisions of Article 11 the penalty is a money fine. This applies in like manner to a deputy acting as a responsible editor.

Other Chapters of the Act:

  • Chapter 1: On the freedom of the press
  • Chapter 2: On the public nature of official documents
  • Chapter 3: On the right to anonymity
  • Chapter 4: On the production of printed matter
  • Chapter 6: On the dissemination of printed matter
  • Chapter 7: On offences against the freedom of the press
  • Chapter 8: Liability rules
  • Chapter 9: On supervision and prosecution
  • Chapter 10: On special coercive measures
  • Chapter 11: On private claims for damages
  • Chapter 12: On court proceedings in freedom of the press cases
  • Chapter 13: On matter printed abroad etc.
  • Chapter 14: General provisions

Leave a Comment