Audiovisual Archive Collections at Swedish Television, SVT: SVT BILD

The national television in Sweden (Sveriges Television) started regularly broadcasting in 1956. But the Audiovisual Archive Collections at Sveriges Television, SVT are of much older date. SVT have acquired several older audiovisual archives. Like the “SF-arkivet”, with old swedish newsreels from the cinema, among them some of the very first, 100 years old Pathé-films, in film history books declared as lost forever, until they where rediscovered some years ago in the enormous SVT-Archive.

Press Photo Collections
The International Press Photo Collection at “SVT-Bild”contains more than 5 millions of pictures, originally from the international news agency “Text och Bilder” in Stockholm.

“Text och Bilder” was a local agency for most of the worlds leading international news photo agencies between the years 1914-1967. They had there foreign customers for news pictures taken in Sweden among the famous international weekly newsmagazines like “Time” and “Life”. “Text och Bilder” had also a local market for incoming international press photos, among them the Swedish followers like for instance “Se” and “FIB-aktuellt”. Weekly newsmagazines, at that time in the frontline of international news photojournalism and with an important mission; bringing up the best news pictures from the world to an Swedish audience.

But the weekly newspapers lost their market when the new medium – television – made its entrance in the mid 50-ies and daily news pictures was broadcasted directly to peoples living room. It ended also the era of showing newsreels before the movies at cinemas. So it was natural for SVT to acquire, preserve and add those old audiovisual archives to their own collections when television made its breakthrough.

The photo-archive collections at SVT-Bild are unique today. Most of the other international photo archive in Europe was lost during the second World War. Most of those few who remained after the war was later lost in fire, bad management or other accidents. When most of the cities in Europe was destroyed by the war was Sweden and “Text och Bilder” luckily kept out of the war and all the damage an occupation army could have caused.

“Text och Bilder” had a very good management. They had a philosophy of keeping one copy of every picture they distributed to their costumers, in their own archive for future use. These pictures was saved with the original text and cataloged in good order.

Another important thing: Text och Bilder/SVT-Bild has always been and is even today “a living archive,” a complete updated collection from 1914 until today, because the century old stock photo collections have new entrances from the daily news production at SVT every day.

So what we have at SVT-Bild today is one of the worlds very few remaining complete picture documentations of the World history during the last century. And it is a great deal of the Baltic heritage that is preserved at SVT. Stories like the murder of Archbishop Johann Pommer in Riga as well as the the boat refugees from the Baltic states to Sweden and Finland are covered in the archive. Also news articles covering every day life, sports and culture event in the Baltic states have left a lot of pictures in the archive. Political news and news about the second World War was other main issues in the newspapers and all pictures and picture text is saved in the SVT-Archive. Much of the material here, especially picture news from “the east front” in WW2 represent the only remaining copies in the world today. All of the old stock photo collections, and all new material are available for customers in digital formats at If not digitized yet, it will be on customers request. Everyone (institutions and private persons) are welcome to be a registered customer and download high-res pictures. Just write a mail to and ask for an account after you have tried the free version.


Lars-Gunnar Bengtsson,
media manager SVT MALMÖ
board member of BAAC