Swedish Radio has to save money

13th September 2023
Swedish Radio today has a balanced budget. However, extensive financial challenges mean that the company must act to secure the finances in the coming years. The savings we will now implement are necessary so that we can continue to develop the content for our listeners, writes CEO Cilla Benkö.
CEO of Swedish Radio, Cilla Benkö. Credit: Mattias Ahlm/Sveriges Radio

This article was originally published on Swedish Radio and is republished with permission. 

By Cilla Benkö, CEO of Swedish Radio

The economic challenges in Sweden and the world are tougher now than in a very long time. It is something that obviously also affects Swedish Radio. In a short time, we have gone from low inflation to the highest in over 30 years. Interest rates have gone from a record low of just over one percent to over four. For Swedish Radio, the rents in 2023 have increased by ten percent, this year’s salary increases are twice as large as our grant enumeration. New legal requirements and a changed security situation means that we have to invest more in security protection and civil preparedness, because Swedish Radio has a decisive role in Sweden’s civil defence. The costs for our vehicles, computers and other equipment are increasing rapidly as well as for distribution. At the same time, the grant enumeration of two percent annually is fixed for the entire permit period (2020-2025).

Read more: Sweden: Public service investigation directives unveiled

Taken together, these challenges mean that we must act and make extensive savings even though we currently have a balanced economy. The main reason is that inflation erodes the grants quickly, which means that the costs increase faster than the grants are added up. Guiding the work with the upcoming savings is our vision and our company-wide strategies:

  • We must live up to our vision of more voices and stronger stories for greater understanding
  • We will continue to focus on the sound
  • We must increase the pace of the work to become as equally an obvious choice digitally as we are on analogue

In order to continue to have a balanced budget, we will, based on what we know now, implement a savings program that means reduced annual costs of SEK 200-250 million. The savings will be made throughout the company, also within the program operations, which must now reduce annual costs by 130-150 million.

Over the course of ten years, Swedish Radio has constantly streamlined its operations because the annual tally has not covered the actual costs and development needs.

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For a long time, the support divisions have become more efficient in order to move funds to the program activities. Currently, a previously decided efficiency program within the support divisions of ten percent is underway. In addition, the support operations must now save an additional five percent and bear their own increased salary costs.

Taken together, these challenges mean that we must act and make extensive savings even though we currently have a balanced economy. 

We will have to make stricter priorities both in terms of content and technical development. A telling example is that we need to allocate significant resources to develop a completely new radio production system. After 2027, it will no longer be possible to buy spare parts for all our control tables, which means that it is not possible to postpone this development work. We must also continue to develop our own digital platforms, for example SR Play. Right now we’re also looking at other ventures to see if there are any that haven’t started yet that we can pause.

We will have fewer employees

We already know now that we will also have to reduce the number of employees. Today it is too early to say exactly how many will be covered or in which part of the company the changes will take place, but everything indicates that we will have to carry out redundancies. Our ambition is to be able to give all our employees clear information as soon as possible.

Now we will put all our effort into working further internally with the ambition to keep our employees updated continuously during the autumn with the greatest possible transparency and discussion. Our ambition is to continue to be able to deliver at the same high level as we do today and to continue to have the high trust of the Swedish people.

Cilla Benkö

About the author

Cilla Benkö is the CEO of Swedish Radio.

Our thanks to Ms. Benkö for providing this report. It was originally published on Swedish Radio.