SVT's party leader debate is condemned for bias

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Published 3 October 2022 at 13.33

Media. The board of review condemns an element of SVT Agenda's party leader debate for bias. The board believes that SVT reproduced a “valuing view of integration” by illustrating the debate topic with an image of burning police cars.

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In Agenda's party leader debate on May 8, 2022, several topics were debated, one of which was about integration.

The topic of integration was presented with a picture of two burning police buses from the Koran riot in Easter and a sign with the text “The integration”. At the same time, the following was said by a presenter.

– After Easter's violent riots with close to two hundred injured police officers, burnt and hijacked police cars, what needs to be done to prevent it from happening again?

Later, the same presenter said “But we'll start with the integration”, whereupon the SD leader Jimmie Åkesson and the Green Party spokesperson Märta Stenevi were invited to a so-called duel. At the same time, a sign with the text “Integrationen” was shown in the background of the studio. Then graphics with the text “Riots during the Easter weekend” and “Vulnerable areas” were shown, while the following was said by a second presenter.

– The Islamophobic politician Rasmus Paludan's plans to burn the Koran led to very violent riots in six Swedish cities. Paludan had applied for a demonstration permit in vulnerable areas. And according to the police, there are 61 such areas in Sweden. There, criminals influence the local community, many are born abroad, unemployment is high and fewer young people pass primary school. Märta Stenevi, What can society do to improve integration and prevent such violent riots from occurring again?

The complainants are mainly critical of the image that was shown in connection with the sign with the text “Integrationen”. According to the complainants, the choice of image was “problematic” because it “falsely linked integration with riots”. The choice of images gave the impression that SVT “supports a right-wing populist narrative that portrays immigration as associated with problems and violence”, according to the complainants.

One complainant also believes that the feature as a whole followed this narrative by dealing with riots rather than integration, which the complainant considers to be “offensive towards immigrants”.

The review board assesses that the image composition, in combination with the subject presentation in general, unilaterally assumed that riots would be a direct consequence of a lack of integration. In this way, “SVT reproduced an evaluative view of integration that risked being perceived as taking a position on a controversial issue”. The feature is therefore rejected as a matter of impartiality.