New media policy guidelines in Finland
The Finnish Government has taken a decision on a new media policy programme, aiming to strengthen media diversity, journalism and media literacy – and to safeguard democracy and freedom of speech.
In July, the Government adopted a policy decision on a national media policy programme, including a series of goals and measures extending to the year 2023. The policy programme is the result of extensive collaboration with the industry, ministries, researchers, and others.
In the preparations, there have been consultation meetings with various stakeholders participating, and a recent study of media policy in Finland, The State of Media and Communications Policy and How to Measure It, has served as a foundation. When published in April, the authors of the study called for a holistic view on media policy, a strengthening of the citizen's perspective, and a systematic assessment of the developments.
Below are some of the goals and actions of the media policy programme:
Supporting responsible journalism
As soon as amended EU rules make it possible, the VAT on e-papers and other e-publications will be reduced to the same level as for printed versions. The current support programme for cultural journals and newspapers will be extended to apply to new actors and publications
that produce news.
Moreover, the Finnish national news service, STT, will receive a one-time lump sum* to secure its news business in the new digital media landscape. (*in Finnish)
(A media outlet conducting “responsible journalism” is one that commits itself to following the self-regulatory journalism rules; read more at the Finnish Council of Mass Media – in Finnish.)
Working for predictable regulation
Media regulation should aim to create a stable business environment for
the industry. Among other things, the forthcoming decision on radio concessions will aim to contribute to continuity and diversity in the radio sector, and also take into account the possibilities for non-commercial radio stations. At EU level, Finland will work actively in matters of regulation of global platforms, privacy and copyright.
Promoting media distribution and accessibility
Availability of fast broadband is to be promoted. This goal leans on the Ministry of Communications’ strategy for digital infrastructure, which
is also important for the distribution of media services.
Making media content more accessible to different language groups, including sign language, is another goal. The media programme highlights the state’s task of securing media services for special groups and encourages Yle, the public service broadcaster, to develop technologies available for commercial actors to use as well. Incentives for the development of media services’ accessibility may also be considered.
Strengthening MIL and fighting disinformation
The national guidelines for MIL (media and information literacy) will be updated, and efforts will also be made to reach out to new groups, i.e. improve the critical media reading skills of adults and special groups.
MIL is to be included in the education of professionals, especially teachers and other educators, and at all levels.
A fact-checking service to counter disinformation will be developed together with the industry. Actions against hate speech are to be reviewed within the framework of the National Action Plan on Fundamental and Human Rights.
Creating a network for media policy
The extensive cooperation behind the media policy programme was a new step in Finnish media policy – and this kind of collaboration will now continue in a new media policy network with regular meetings (with the
first meeting starting in September).
There will also be a systematic assessment of the development in different policy areas, and a model for monitoring the changes, as outlined in the media policy study above, will be developed.
No extra funding
The actions of the media policy programme will be implemented within the financial framework and through existing appropriations. Actions requiring increased appropriations are decided on within the framework of govern-
ment finances and annual budgets.