The Swedish review committee for radio and television has deemed TV4's broadcasts of the Keno and Lotto draws, operated by state-owned Svenska Spel, to be advertising.
The committee is an independent body within the Swedish Press, Radio and Television Authority tasked with examining whether broadcasts comply with the rules. Programmes tested by the board can either be cleared, cleared with criticism or condemned.
In its review findings, the committee noted that “Svenska Spel covered costs for the productions at the same time that TV4 received additional compensation from Svenska Spel. Despite the fact that TV4 called the compensation sponsorship, the board considers that it is advertising in the sense of the Radio and Television Act.”
Trade group BOS told VIXIO GamblingCompliance that it filed a complaint to the Swedish Press, Radio and Television Authority over Svenska Spel's reoccurring segment on free-to-air channel TV4 where guests play the company’s Keno and scratchcard products.
BOS claimed that the segment should be considered advertising and not air as part of editorial TV programming.
Gustaf Hoffstedt, BOS secretary general, said: “The decision by the authority will help level the playing field on Sweden’s gambling market.
"By claiming that the Keno and scratchcard segments did not constitute advertising, Svenska Spel was able to promote their monopoly products outside of regular advertising spots, gaining an unfair advantage over its competitors.”
The cases will be submitted to the administrative court as the review board has decided to apply for TV4 to pay a fee for the violation.
Sweden’s Radio and Television Act requires all marketing to be designed and presented so that it is clear that it is advertising, including information clearly distinguishing the advertisements from the other content before and after each advertisement.
Svenska Spel referred VIXIO GamblingCompliance to TV4 for comment but would not provide one itself.
At the time of writing, TV4 had not responded to VIXIO for a comment.
BOS has long challenged Svenska Spel’s products appearing on TV4, previously calling it disguised advertising that violates responsible gambling rules.
In 2019, the trade group filed an unsuccessful complaint to the Consumer Ombudsman's office, following an earlier grievance lodged with the Swedish media review board over TV4's morning programmes, which regularly feature segments highlighting Triss cards, Lotto and Keno games.
BOS believes the most recent decision could be “huge” if the same kind of argument is now applied to Triss products on the same TV channel.