Skip to main content
University of Gothenburg
Breadcrumb

Marketdriven and democracydriven freedom of expression

Is democracy and free speech promoted or not by a strengthened constitutional protection of commercial messages? The answer is not obvious. The issue has scarcely been studied in Swedish legal scholarship.

In this project, financed for three years by Ragnar Söderberg Foundation in 2013-2016, we studied the legal changes in Sweden, EU and USA, and how media’s dependency on income from advertising is dealt with in those jurisdictions.

Researchers in the project were Eva-Maria Svensson, Department of Law, Maria Edström, Department of Journalism, Media and Communication, and research assistant Britt Börjesson Department of Journalism, Media and Communication, University of Gothenburg.

The project continues from 2016 without funding.

About us

Britt Börjesson
Lecturer at Journalism, Media and Communication. She has previously participated in research projects with focus on journalism ethics.

Research assistant in the project 2013-2015.

Maria Edström
PhD in Journalism and Mass Communication, University of Gothenburg in 2006. Senior lecturer at Journalism, Media and Communication. Her major research focus is on gender and media. She has a background in journalism, primarily in radio and print.

Photo: Jeffrey Johns

Eva-Maria Svensson
LLD, University of Gothenburg in 1997. Professor and senior lecturer at the Department of Law with a research and educational focus on gender legal scholarship, legal theory and legal philosophy.

Conference

Video (1:56:24)
Communicative Democracy

Freedom of expression is a fundamental right and an essential part of democracy. The boundaries of and conditions for freedom of expression are constantly under debate. The scope of the conference "Communicative democracy. Protecting, promoting and developing free speech in the digital era" is to focus on the intersections between journalism and law. The theme is highly topical considering the 250th anniversary of the first Swedish Freedom of the Press Act, considered to be the oldest freedom of expression act in the world.

The conference is part of the research project Marketdriven and democracydriven Freedom of expression. It is organized and sponsored by The Swedish Foundation for Humanities and Social Science, Ragnar Söderberg Foundation, The Partnership Programme 2015, School of Business, Economics and Law, University of Gothenburg, Department of Law, University of Gothenburg, Department of Journalism, Media and Communication, University of Gothenburg.

About the project

The legal status for commercial messages as protection-worthy speech or not, is debated. Claims to extend the protection for commercial messages have been accommodated in many jurisdictions over time. The concepts of market-driven and democracy-driven freedom of speech are used to study and analyse the (sometimes) contradictory requirements directed towards freedom of speech.

A fundamental issue in this project is whether democracy and the free speech are promoted or not by a strengthened constitutional protection for commercial messages. The answer is not obvious.

In the project we will study the legal changes in Sweden, EU and USA, and how media’s dependency on income from advertising is dealt with in those jurisdictions. One example of legal change is the increased time and space for commercials in television by the EU Audiovisual Media Directive. Another example is the increased protection of commercial speech in the American constitution. An increased protection of commercial messages has hardly been in focus in Swedish law research, other than when there has been debate of decreasing the space for commercial messages.

The overarching question, if increased protection of commercial messages leads to increasing or decreasing freedom of speech, will be answered through two sets of questions:

  1. What is the nature of the legal changes that have been made in this area of commercial messages? How do they relate to the conditions of the media market
  2. What is the relationship between financing and media content and what are the consequences for media trust? What consequences does market driven freedom of speech have regarding democracy?

The project is financed for three years by Ragnar Söderberg Foundation, starting in July 2013. Researchers in the project are Eva-Maria Svensson, Department of Law, Maria Edström, Department of Journalism, Media and Communication, and research assistant Britt Börjesson Department of Journalism, Media and Communication, University of Gothenburg.

Activities

G16, Nationell genusforskarkonferens, Linköpings universitet, 23-25 November 2016

Paper presentation: Svensson, Eva-Maria & Edström, Maria (2016). Mobilisering och undanskjutande - paradoxen i svensk politik kring stereotyper jämställdhet och yttrandefrihet

ECREA Pre-conference: Media Accountability at the Crossroads: European Challenges and Perspectives, 8 November 2016, Prague

Paper presentation: Svensson, Eva-Maria, Kenyon, Andrew & Edström, Maria (2016). Selling short media accountability? The importance of addressing market-driven claims on media freedom

Critical Legal Conference 2016, Turning points, Kent University, UK, 1-3 September 2016

Paper presentation: Edström, Maria & Svensson, Eva-Maria (2016). Mobilisation, problem representation and silencing – paradoxes in Swedish policy around stereotypes, gender equality and free speech

The European Symposium on Media Policy 2015, Oslo, Norway, 20 November 2015.

Paper presentation: Kenyon, Andrew, Svensson, Eva-Maria & Edström, Maria (2015). Building Systems for Freedom of Expression in a Digital Era: Considering Sweden.

Communicative democracy. Protecting, promoting and developing free speech in the digital era. Conference, 2015, School of Business, Economics and Law, Gothenburg 6-7 October 2015. Paper presentation: Maria Edström, New partnerships and problem when funding content in commercial broadcasting.

Communicative democracy. Protecting, promoting and developing free speech in the digital era. Conference, 2015, School of Business, Economics and Law, Gothenburg 6-7 October 2015. Paper presentation: Eva-Maria Svensson, A case study of the division between editorial and commercial content.

Critical Legal Conference 2015: ‘LAW, SPACE AND THE POLITICAL’, University of Wrocław, Poland, 3 – 5 September 2015

Paper presentation: Human rights for non-human subjects –free speech for corporations? Stream: Persons as Property: law, identity, subjectivity, personality. Eva-Maria Svensson, Professor, LLD, Department of Law, School of Business, Economics and Law, University of Gothenburg

NordMedia 2015, Nordic Media and Communication Research Conference, Copenhagen, Denmark, Mobile presence - Mobile Modernities. 13-15 Aug.

Paper presentation: Andrew Kenyon, Eva-Maria Svensson & Maria Edström, Building Systems for Freedom of Expression in a Digital Era: Considering Sweden.

Paper presentation: Maria Edström, Blurring the lines. Ethical dilemmas for journalists with native advertising and other look-alike editorial content.

NORA conference: Voices in Nordic Gender Research 2014

Roskilde 5-7 Nov.

Paper presentation: Eva-Maria Svensson & Maria Edtström.

Political and legal attitudes toward gender images in media. Stream: The power of gender imaginaries.

World Congress of Constitutional Law 2014
Oslo 16-20 June.
Paper presentation: Eva-Maria Svensson & Maria Edström.
Market-Driven Challenges for the Press: Freedom of Expression and the Interaction between the State, Citizens and the Fourth Estate in a Digital Era.

Nordic Gender Media Forum 2014 Byrummets stereotype kvindebilleder - Køn og Reklamer [Stereotypical Images in the Urban Space]
Copenhagen 24 April.
Arranged by: KVINFO and NORDICOM
Maria Edström and Eva-Maria Svensson participated in a panel.
http://forside.kvinfo.dk/om-kvinfo/arrangementer/k%C3%B8nogreklamer.

Multidisciplinary Opinion and Democracy research group 2013 (www.mod.gu.se)
Paper presentation: Maria Edström & Eva-Maria Svensson.
Market driven freedom of speech - Swedish media between democracy and market.

Gardens of Justice, Critical Legal Conference, Stockholm 2012
Stream: Justice and Law in Gendered Gardens.
Paper presentation: Maria Edström & Eva-Maria Svensson.
Gendered consequences of commercialisation of freedom of speech.

Law & Society Conference 2012, International Conference on Law and Society, Honolulu, Hawaii, 2012.
Stream: International Sociolegal Feminisms ('FemLaw').
Paper presentation: Eva-Maria Svensson.
Gendered consequences of commercialisation of freedom of speech.

Future of Journalism 2011 Conference, University of Cardiff, UK.
Paper presentation: Maria Edström & Eva-Maria Svensson.
To commercialise freedom of speech - Swedish media between democracy and market.

NordMedia 2011, Nordic Media and Communication Research Conference, Akureyri, Island. Theme: Doing the Right Thing.
Paper presentation: Maria Edström & Eva-Maria Svensson.
"Commercial Speech" and Informed Citizenship - A Problematic Relationship.

Other activities

We have presented the research project and taken part of a public discussion in various events such as Almedalen 2015, the Book fair in Gothenburg 2015, Publicistklubben Södra

Publications

17. Svensson, Eva-Maria, Medierna – den nya gränslösheten, Stiftelsen Riksbankens Jubileumsfond, 2019. www.rj.se/globalassets/rj-arsbocker/2019-5_medierna.pdf

16. Kenyon, Andrew T., Svensson, Eva-Maria, Edström, Maria, Selling short media accountability? The importance of addressing market-driven claims on media freedom. In: Media Accountability in the Era of Post-Truth Politics European Challenges and Perspectives, 1st Edition, 119-134, Eberwein, Tobias, Fengler, Susanne, Karmasin, Matthias (eds.), Routledge, 2019.

15. Edström, Maria (2017). Trovärdighet till salu? Etiska dilemman när reklam och journalistik blandas samman. Truedson L. (red.). Näjtiv, kånntänt, brändidd– ska textreklam bli räddningen för journalistiken?. s. 48-63
mediestudier.se/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/N%C3%A4jtiv_k%C3%A5nnt%C3%A4nt_br%C3%A4ndidd.pdf

14. Svensson, Eva-Maria (2017), Yttrandefriheten mellan demokrati och marknad - etiska och juridiska utmaningar, I: Näjtiv, kånntänt, brändidd - ska textreklam bli räddningen för journalistiken? Lars Truedson (red.), Institutet för mediestudier, s. 92-107. mediestudier.se/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/N%C3%A4jtiv_k%C3%A5nnt%C3%A4nt_br%C3%A4ndidd.pdf

13. Edström, Maria (2016). Audience Advertising Fatigue and New Alliances to Finance Content in Broadcasting. In: Blurring the Lines, Market-Driven and Democracy-Driven Freedom of Expression, Maria Edström, Andrew T. Kenyon & Eva-Maria Svensson (eds.). pp. 131-140, www.nordicom.gu.se/sv/publikationer/blurring-lines.

12. Svensson, Eva-Maria (2016), Upholding the Division Between Editorial and Commercial Content in Legislation and Self-Regulation. In: Blurring the lines. Market-driven and democracy-driven freedom of expression, Maria Edström, Andrew T. Kenyon & Eva-Maria Svensson (eds.). University of Gothenburg, Nordicom 2016, www.nordicom.gu.se/sv/publikationer/blurring-lines.

11. Edström, Maria, Kenyon, Andrew T & Svensson, Eva-Maria (2016), Introduction: Rethinking Freedom of Expression and Media Freedom. In: Blurring the lines. Market-driven and democracy-driven freedom of expression, Edström, Maria, Kenyon, Andrew T & Svensson, Eva-Maria (eds.), University of Gothenburg, Nordicom 2016, www.nordicom.gu.se/sv/publikationer/blurring-lines.

10. Edström, Maria, Kenyon, Andrew T & Svensson, Eva-Maria, Blurring the lines. Market-driven and democracy-driven freedom of expression, University of Gothenburg, Nordicom 2016, www.nordicom.gu.se/sv/publikationer/blurring-lines.

9. Kenyon, Andrew T, Svensson, Eva-Maria & Edström, Maria, Building and Sustaining Freedom of Expression: Considering Sweden, Nordicom Review 38 (2017) 1, pp. 31-45, www.nordicom.gu.se/sites/default/files/kapitel-pdf/10.1515_nor-2016-0043.pdf

8. Edström, Maria & Svensson, Eva-Maria (2016), Trust and Values for Sale. Market-driven and democracy-driven freedom of expression, In: Freedom of Expression and Media in Transition, Ulla Carlsson (red.), NORDICOM. ISBN 978-91-87957-22-2.7, www.nordicom.gu.se/sites/default/files/publikationer-hela-pdf/freedom_of_expression_and_media.pdf

7. Svensson, Eva-Maria & Edström, Maria, Market-Driven Challenges to Freedom of Expression and the Interaction Between the State, the Market, and the Media, Nordicom Review 37 (2016) 2, pp. 1-16, www.nordicom.gu.se/sites/default/files/kapitel-pdf/10.1515_nor-2016-0013.pdf.

6. Svensson, Eva-Maria & Edström, Maria (2016), Står jämställdhet och yttrandefrihet på samma sida? Därför har Sverige avstått från att lagstifta mot könsdiskriminerande reklam [Are gender equality and freedom of expression on the same side? That is why Sweden has not regulated against gender discriminatory advertising]. Presshistorisk årsbok 2016. Svensk Presshistorisk Förening, Birgitta Ney, (ed.).

5. Svensson, Eva-Maria & Edström, Maria, Freedom of expression vs. gender equality - conflicting values when regulating gender stereotypes in advertising (2014). Tidsskrift for Rettsvitenskap, vol. 127, 5/2014, s. 479-511.

4. Svensson, Eva-Maria, Nordic regulation of gender discriminatory advertisements (2014). Making change Nordic Examples of Working Towards Gender Equality in the Media. s. 99-105. Göteborg: NORDICOM.

3. Börjesson, Britt och Edström, Maria, Fler negativt inställda till tv-reklam (2014). [Increasing negative attitudes towards commercials in television]. In: Mittfåra & Marginal, Bergström, Annika och Oscarsson, Henrik, SOM-institutet, Göteborgs universitet.

2. Svensson, Eva-Maria, Traditionskonform tolkning. Om tolkning av förhållandet mellan könsdiskriminerande reklam och grundlagsskyddade yttranden [Interpretation conformal to the tradition. On interpretation of the relation between gender discriminatory adverts and protected expressions] (2013). In: Festskrift Liber Amicarum et Amicorum in Honour of Ruth Nielsen, Jens Fejø, Ulla Nergaard, Tvarnø, Christina D. Tvarnø & Grith Skovgaard Ølykke (red.), København: DJØF.

1. Svensson, Eva-Maria, The (non)regulation on gender discrimination in advertising in Sweden: I: El principio de Igualdad ante el Derecho Privado: Una Visión Multidisciplinar, Beatriz Verdera Izquierdo (ed.), Dykinson, S.L, Madrid 2013.

Network

Susanne Fengler
susanne.fengler@tu-dortmund.de
PhD in international journalism, Director for Erich-Brost-Institute for International Journalism, Technische Universität, TU, Dortmund University. Director Media AcT project.
D-44221 Dortmund
www.journalistik-dortmund.de
www.brost.org

Caroline Heide-Jørgensen
Caroline.Heide-Jorgensen@jur.ku.dk
Professor in Competition Law and the Law of Unfair Competition at the Faculty of Law, University of Copenhagen
http://jura.ku.dk/english/staff/profile/?id=94574&f=2

Andrew Kenyon
a.kenyon@unimelb.edu.au
Professor of Law and Director of the Centre for Media and Communications Law, Melbourne Law School, University of Melbourne
http://www.law.unimelb.edu.au/melbourne-law-school/community/our-staff/staff-profile/username/Andrew%20Kenyon

Torbjörn von Krogh
torbjorn@mediestudier.se
PhD in Media and Communication, Mid University Sundsvall, Director Simo.
http://www.miun.se/sv/Avdelningar/mkv/Om-avdelningen/Medarbetare/

Justin Lewis
LewisJ2@cardiff.ac.uk
Professor of Communication, Dean of Research, College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, School of Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies, Bute Building, Cardiff University, CF10 3NB
http://www.cardiff.ac.uk/jomec/contactsandpeople/profiles/lewis-justin.html

Marta Martín Llaguno
Marta.martin@ua.es
Professor, Department of Communication and Social Psychology
Faculty of Economics and Business, University of Alicante
http://web.ua.es/en/cosoco/quienes-somos.html

Tamara R. Piety
tamara-piety@utulsa.edu
Professor of Law, The University of Tulsa College of Law, Oklahoma, https://faculty.utulsa.edu/faculty/tamara-piety/

Adrienne Stone
a.stone@unimelb.edu.au
Professor, Director, Centre for Comparative Constitutional Studies, Melbourne Law School, University of Melbourne
https://law.unimelb.edu.au/about/staff/adrienne-stone