There are three legal forms of FM radio in Sweden:
- National public radio
- Commercial radio
- Open access local radio
National public radio
The government has awarded the non-profit public service broadcasting company Sveriges Radio (Sweden’s Radio) four national licences (P1, P2, P3 and P4). The fourth licence is composed by a network of 24 regional radio stations. In addition, Sveriges Radio operates one additional local station in Stockholm (multilingual P6) and one local station in Malmö (youth oriented P3 Din Gata).
There are three national commercial radio licences (each covering approx. 85-90 % of the population of Sweden), and 35 local commercial radio licences in 21 areas (equivalent to Sweden’s 21 counties). Each licence was awarded to the highest bidder in a closed bidding contest. The licences are valid during an eight year period until July 2026 with no chance for prolongation. Any licence can be re-sold by the owner to anyone, but there are limitations on multiple ownership of licences in individual areas.
There are no obligations to broadcast local programming on the local licences, so out of the 8 local formats available, 7 formats are being broadcast from Stockholm.
The three national commercial radio licences are owned and operated by
- Bauer Media Group, broadcasting Mix Megapol
- NRJ Group, broadcasting NRJ
- Viaplay Group, broadcasting RIX FM
The 35 local commercial radio licences in 21 areas are owned by
- Viaplay Group, 18 licences, broadcasting Star FM
- Bauer Media Group, 8 licences, broadcasting Rockklassiker on 7 licences, and Feel Good Hits on one licence
- Bauer Media Group is also majority owner of a further 3 licences, Rockklassiker on 2 licences, and Retro FM (operated by Mad Med Media) on one licence
- NTM, 2 licences, broadcasting Bandit (operated by Viaplay)
- SMT, 2 licences, broadcasting Vinyl (operated by Bauer Media)
- NRJ Group, 1 licence, broadcasting Radio Nostalgi (operated by Bauer Media)
- DB Media, 1 licence, broadcasting Lugna favoriter (operated by Viaplay)
Open access local radio
Each of Sweden’s 290 local districts (kommuner/municipalities) have the right to have one open access (mostly low power) local radio license (närradio). There are no specific rules of content and no limitations to national syndication of contents and the same rules on commercial content as for commercial radio licenses, but only non-profit NGO’s may be awarded a license. However, as the licenses are open access, no-one can claim exclusivity to any license. Any NGO can apply for and will be awarded broadcasting hours to any license by the Swedish Broadcasting Authority (MPRT). This fact makes these licenses unattractive to commercial operators, although there are a number of commercial 24/7 stations, mainly in or around larger cities. There are currently some 140 open access local radio licenses in operation across Sweden.
DAB+ is being used for digital audio broadcasting in Sweden. Sweden has been allocated four national DAB-networks, where each multiplex can carry up to 15 formats. The first network is a national single frequency network, the second network is divided in circa 20 areas (roughly corresponding to Sweden’s 21 counties), whereas the third and fourth networks are divided in 34 areas.
- The first network has been awarded (until December 2025) to the public service broadcasting company Sveriges Radio, currently broadcasting seven formats on the network.
- The second network is currently unused.
- The third and fourth networks have been designated to commercial broadcasting (until July 2026). Each multiplex carries 14 national formats, whereas the 15th channel in each multiplex has been designated to carry local formats.
- Bauer Media Group has been awarded seven national licences, and one local licence in Gothenburg and surrounding areas. Mad Men Media has been awarded five national licences. NRJ Group has been awarded two national licences. All groups share the third network.
- Viaplay Group has been awarded eleven national licences. DB Media has been awarded two national licences and two local licences in Malmo and surrounding areas. Skärgårdsradion has been awarded one national licence. The three groups share the fourth network, except for one of DB Medias local licenses, which is broadcasting on the third network.
However, only a small number of transmitters are operating at the moment, reaching about one third of Sweden’s population, mainly in the three largest cities; Stockholm, Gothenburg and Malmo.