Charter of the Press Council
Amended on May 13, 2019
The Press Council shall review cases concerning good journalistic practice. The Council shall be entitled to interpret the meaning of this concept as it sees fit.
The Council shall review such cases relating to all periodicals which, by subscription, by sale of single copies or by other means, are available to the public.
The Council shall also review cases concerning Internet publications with the following limitations:
a) The review applies to Internet publications by companies represented in the Joint Committee of Press Associations.
b) The review applies to such Internet publications that are defined in the 1st chapter, 3rd paragraph, 2nd section of the Fundamental Law of Freedom of Expression (YGL), and the 1st chapter, 4th paragraph, 1st section (YGL), provided that they are distributed in the manner referred to under section 2a) or c).
c) The review also applies to accounts in Social Media, provided that the account is controlled by the company or, when applicable, is covered by section a) as per above.
d) The review is only applicable for Internet publications that can be controlled and supervised by the Publisher.
The Council may take up cases for review on application by the Press Ombudsman or when an application is submitted to the latter and referred by him for consideration by the Council. Applications submitted to the Press Ombudsman but dismissed by him may instead be referred to the Council by the applicant on condition that the matter concerns the applicant personally.
Applications may be submitted by individuals. Applications from companies, organizations or public authorities should as a rule be considered only regarding correction of facts or reply to an allegation.
Under certain circumstances the Council may consider applications other than specified above or in a different manner than specified above. The Council may itself decide whether an application is to be taken up for review.
The Council may also discontinue the review of a case even when the review procedure is already under way.
To perform investigations of a general kind is not part of the duties of the Council.
The Council shall report its opinion on the cases reviewed. These reports shall be made public.
The Council shall consist of a chairman, a first, second and third vice-chairman, and fourteen ordinary members.
The Council shall be divided into two groups, each group consisting of a chairman or vice-chairman and seven ordinary members. With due observance of the provisions of the first paragraph of section 8 herein, the placing of the members in the two groups shall be decided for six months at a time by the drawing of lots. The groups are equally qualified to consider the cases handled by the Council.
Fourteen deputy members shall be appointed to replace any ordinary member appointed similarly to the deputy in the event that the ordinary member is unable to attend.
The National Press Club, the Swedish Union of Journalists, the Newspaper Publishers Association and the Magazine Publishers Association shall each appoint two members of the Council and two deputy members.
The Chief Parliamentary Ombudsman and the Chairman of the Swedish Bar Association shall jointly appoint six members and six deputy members, who shall be respected citizens with wide experience of national affairs. They must not be dependent on any newspaper company or press organization.
The term of office, which is two years, shall commence on July 1.st Appointment of members of the Council should be performed at least two months before the beginning of the term of office. Nobody may be elected member or deputy member of the Council for a total term of office of more than six years.
The chairman and vice-chairmen should be lawyers with experience of service as regular court judges. They are appointed by the Joint Committee of Press Associations for a term of office of two years. The chairman and vice-chairmen of the Council should be consulted when new appointments to the chair are made. Nobody may be appointed chairman or vice-chairman of the Council for a total term of office for more than eight years.
Each of the four organizations appointing members of the Council may if necessary appoint temporary replacements. The acting chairman has the same authority regarding the other members.
The Council shall appoint a secretary. The secretary shall, acting on the instructions of the chairman, prepare the cases to be reviewed by the Council, keep the minutes and assume any other administrative duties.
The Council shall be entitled to reach a decision when, in addition to the chairman or a deputy chairman, one member or deputy member appointed by each of the organizations named in Section 6, paragraph 1, and three members or deputy members appointed in the manner prescribed in Section 6, paragraph 2, are present.
The Council shall also be entitled to reach a decision when, in addition to the chairman or a deputy chairman, a total of five members or deputy members, of which no less than two should be appointed in the manner presribed in Section 6, paragraph 2, are present.
If it is obvious that a complaint will not result in press-ethical criticism, the Council is entitled to reach a decision when the chairman or one vice chairman and one member or deputy member appointed according to Section 6, paragraph 1 and one member or deputy member appointed according to Section 6, paragraph 2, are present, provided they are unanimous.
The Council is competent to act with chairman or vice-chairman in case
1. The review will be dismissed on the grounds that it has been submitted too late to the Press Ombudsman or
2. A request for review will be rejected or denied or
3. That a case without any actions taken by the Press Ombudsman, will be rejected or denied.
If deemed suitable, cases of principal significance may be referred for decision by all chairmen and members or deputy members.
When reviewing a case concerning a printed or online publication no person representing or employed by the company responsible for the case under review by the Council may take part in such review.
In deciding an issue, each member of the Council shall have one vote. If the votes are equal, the decisive vote shall be cast by the chairman.
The Council should strive for unanimous decisions. Should there be a difference of opinion, the dissenting opinion should be filed with the Council’s decision. In the event of a difference of opinion, the chairman may attempt to achieve unanimity by adjourning further consideration of the case.
A deputy shall be entitled to take part in the Council’s deliberations but not in the voting unless he is replacing a regular Council member.
A newspaper censured by the Council shall pay a fee which as of 2015 amounts to the following sum:
Circulation, weekdays Kronor
Up to 10 000 copies 13 000:-
Over 10 000 copies 30 000:-
When an Internet publication is censured the fee charged shall be based on the circulation of the printed publication published by the company in question.
The fee, which shall contribute to covering the costs of the Council and the Press Ombudsman, shall be paid to TU Service AB (The Swedish Newspaper Publishers Association).
A printed or online publication criticized by the Council shall without delay publish the entire, unabridged text of the Council’s statement in a prominent place in the publication and without special reminder report to the Council that it has done so. The statement shall be founded on the decision of the Council and be approved by the Chairman at the ruling.
The statement shall show that the text of the statement is available in full at the Press Ombudsman/ Press Council homepage.
In the case of the Council criticizing a publication in accordance with § 1c, the statement shall be published in the same forum. If the forum has limitations in showing the statement in full, a reference should be made to the main Internet platform of the Publisher, e.g. the newspaper’s homepage. If there is no homepage available, the statement may be published by a link to the Press Ombudsman/Press Council homepage.
In the case of a complainant not wanting a press-ethical criticism published in accordance with the first paragraph, this should be respected.
The Council shall submit an annual report of its activities to the press organizations specified in Section 6, to the Chief Parliamentary Ombudsman and to the cCairman of the Swedish Bar Association.
The chairman of the Council shall inform the Press Ombudsman of the work of the Council on a regular basis.
The question of changes in the basic principles of the composition or work of the Council may be raised by the Council itself or by the Joint Committee of Press Associations and shall be decided by the Joint Committee of Press Associations after consultation with the Chief Parliamentary Ombudsman and the Chairman of the Swedish Bar Association.
Comment on the Charter of the Press Council
Under the terms of Section 3, the Council may decide whether or not to take up a case for review. Furthermore, the Council may discontinue the review even when the review procedure has already begun.
If legal proceedings under the Freedom of the Press Act or the Freedom of Speech Act regarding a matter referred to the Council have begun or have already been completed, the Council should particularly consider whether it is necessary to review the case also from an ethical point of view, keeping in mind that journalistic ethics under no circumstances may obstruct the exercise of freedom of the press.