TV4 is a Swedish television network. It started broadcasting by satellite in 1990 and, since 1992, on the terrestrial network. In 1994, TV4 became the largest channel and remained so for a number of years. The two channels of Sveriges Television (SVT) lost more and more viewers for a couple of years. After making schedule changes in 2001, SVT1 had practically the same numbers of viewers as TV4. Since 2004 the TV4 Group has been a fully active member of the European Broadcasting Union.
TV4 was launched on 15 September 1990. The channel invested in an extensive news organisation and Swedish drama series. The premiere suffered from technical faults and the drama series weren't popular with critics.
In 1991, two of the channels oldest entertainment programmes premiered: the Swedish version of Jeopardy! and the Saturday night bingo show Bingolotto. Bingolotto in particular became highly popular. This year also saw TV4 awarded a license to broadcast terrestrially.
During the 1990s TV4 would broadcast several popular Friday night entertainment shows such as Fångarna på fortet (Swedish version of Fort Boyard), Kär och galen, Tur i kärlek, På rymmen, Sikta mot stjärnorna (Soundmix Show), Stadskampen, (Intervilles) and Småstjärnorna (Mini Playback Show).
In the early 1990s, the TV4 Group decided to move their 7pm evening news to 7:30pm in order to compete with the most popular news programme, Rapport, which, at that time, was broadcast on SVT2. This failed and the news was subsequently moved to 6:30pm. In 2004, the evening news was moved to 7pm, and the status quo reinstated.
In 2004, TV4 began transitioning to become a digital-only service, starting by shutting down its analogue satellite signal. On 19 September 2005, TV4 began shutting down analogue terrestrial transmissions, starting at the island of Gotland. The analogue shutoff was completed by October 2007.
Since 2004, TV4 has been broadcasting a Swedish version of the internationally popular Pop Idol format.
TV4 offers a mix of news, sports, drama series, soaps, entertainment, current affairs programmes, sitcoms, feature films, documentaries and phone-in shows. News is an important part of TV4. It broadcasts the news program Nyheterna, (The News) at 7pm & 10pm and Nyhetsmorgon (News Morning) in the mornings. On weekend mornings there is children's programming in Swedish before Nyhetsmorgon starts. After 11pm until Nyhetsmorgon, it shows reruns and some Swedish and English television series.
After the Nyhetsmorgon ends on weekdays the Efter tio (After ten) starts followed by English spoken TV series up until the news at 7pm. In the daytime on weekends there are often reruns and sports programs. Then main Swedish and English TV programs are broadcast up to the 10pm news. Friday nights have included family entertainment at 8pm since the early 1990s. Bingolotto occupied Saturday evenings from 1991 to 2004. TV4 then moved Bingolotto to Sundays and started broadcasting feature films instead. With the start of Deal or No Deal in 2006, family entertainment returned to Saturday nights. Later, there are other entertainment shows on Saturday evenings. On Sunday evenings, Swedish-produced television programs are shown until 9pm when they show a movie on Saturday nights. They also show a movie after the entertainment show.
After about 11pm until Nyhetsmorgon starts they show reruns and some Swedish and English television series. The foreign programs are mainly from the UK and U.S.. All foreign programs are subtitled into Swedish. TV4 also offers investigative journalism programmes, most notably Kalla fakta ("Cold Facts").
As a part of its public service obligations, TV4 owns and operates a number of regional and local opt-out stations. When the local stations were set up, they were owned by both local investors and the TV4 Group themselves. Since the start of TV4 Uppland in 1996, the number of stations has been sixteen. Although some stations have closed and others have been set up, the total number of stations has stayed unchanged.
The TV4 Group brought out many of the local stations and became the sole owner of fifteen stations in 2001. The only independent station, TV4 Fyrstad, went bankrupt in 2003 and was replaced by TV4 Väst, owned and operated by the TV4 Group. The TV4 Group later merged the stations into five regional companies and in 2004, a single company: TV4 Sverige AB.
As of 2008[update], these are the local TV4 stations:
After the closedown of the analogue transmitters and the termination of TV4's public service obligations, the pattern of the local stations is due to a major overhaul which will see the number of local stations increase.
As TV4 is broadcast from Sweden, it has to follow much tighter advertising rules than its main competitors, Modern Times Group (TV3) and ProSiebenSat.1 Media (Kanal 5). Initially this meant that the TV4 Group was not allowed to include advertising breaks, meaning that the advertising had to be put in between the programmes.
Nonetheless, the TV4 Group felt the urge to include advertising breaks. Therefore, it made several Inför programmes. The Inför programmes were short versions of TV4 programmes that were scheduled in the middle of programmes. For example, Fångarna på fortet would be divided into two parts and in between these, Inför Bingolotto would be shown. This allowed TV4 to broadcast advertising in the gaps between Inför Bingolotto and the two halves of Fångarna på fortet.
The Broadcasting Commission repeatedly ruled that the Inför programmes couldn't be considered as real programmes. In 2000 they were replaced by a programme called Dagens namn, in which the current name day was mentioned. This was later on replaced by Om en bok in which famous people presented a book they enjoyed.
This ended in April 2002 when a new Radio and TV Law came into force, allowing the TV4 Group to interrupt its programmes for advertising, but not to the same extent as Modern Times Group (TV3) and ProSiebenSat.1 Media (Kanal 5).
The Radio and TV Law also restricted the amount of advertising that can be shown to ten percent of the programming.
Since TV4 was the only commercial channel allowed to broadcast terrestrially, it had to pay a special fee to the government, consisting of a fixed fee and a variable element based on the amount of advertising that the TV4 Group sells. The TV4 Group worked to have this fee removed, especially with the launch of digital terrestrial television.
The new centre-right government intends to relax the advertising rules. TV4 would then broadcast up to twelve minutes of advertising (as opposed to the previous ten minutes in prime time and eight minutes during other time). The amount of advertising overall would also raise from ten percent to fifteen percent, giving TV4 the same rules as the UK-based broadcasters.