NEWS | 22 Jan 2016

Working group proposes that YLE reduce its own production

The Finnish Broadcasting Company YLE should reduce its own production, and instead outsource tasks and purchase services from independent production companies. This was one of the proposals of the working group appointed by the Finnish Minister of Transport and Communications in August 2015 to assess the Finnish media market. The working group published its report in December. A parliamentary working group is now working on the review of YLE's tasks.

[This article is updated in April 2016]

The working group, led by ex-CEO of Nokia Professor Anssi Vanjoki, suggested that YLE function more as a distribution and purchasing organization in future.

The group also suggested that the share of external production be defined by cost instead of broadcast time. Accordingly, YLE should increase the share of independent productions to 30 per cent of all costs.

The working group suggested that part of the public service tasks can be carried out by commercial actors, and that , YLE’s tasks should be specified by a parliamentary working group, which is to review the public service duty and funding of YLE during spring 2016. This parliamentary working group is now carrying out its task and conclusions are expected for autumn 2016.

According to Vanjoki’s group, outsourcing and the transition to a more competitive operating model would benefit the entire Finnish media market. The working group says that YLE’s contemporary strategy, which the group claim is based on maximizing audiences and maintaining market leadership, significantly hampers the functioning of the commercial media. The negative consequences of the changes on employment, according to the working group, would balance out if the demand for the production by independent companies increased.

The working group also proposed that YLE provide bloggers and video producers with a national digital platform.

YLE leaders: Impossible to realise
YLE’s administration and leadership, while regarding the report as a welcome opening of a debate, claimed that the suggestion of a 30-per cent quota would be impossible to realise.

According to YLE CEO Lauri Kivinen, all Finnish TV channels together are already spending approximately 100 million Euros on programmes from independent production companies. The working group’s suggestion would mean that solely YLE would spend about 140 million Euros on such external productions.

Director and Editor-in-Chief of YLE’s news and current affairs, Atte Jääskeläinen, claimed in an interview that as a consequence, all YLE’s culture, entertainment and drama production would be closed down and that the obligation to purchase this production from independent companies would negatively affect quality.

“No reasonable person would propose that the news and current affairs activity be outsourced. The consequences of such a move have never been good”, he added.

17 suggestions on 18 pages
In all, the working group offered 17 different suggestions in its 18-page report. It recommended, for example, a deregulation of radio and TV advertising as well as the advertising of light alcohol beverages, setting the VAT tax rates for digital and physical content at the same level, and making the copyright system more flexible.

Additionally, it recommended that media education programmes be reduced and that some of their sites be transferred to places offering continuing education.

The members of the working group were author Kalle Isokallio (ex-Nokia CEO), VD Mikael Jungner (ex-politician and ex-YLE CEO), and freelance journalist Reetta Meriläinen (ex-Editor-in-Chief of Helsingin Sanomat).

Link to the report (in Finnish, summary in English): The competent will thrive. Report by the working group assessing the Finnish media market

 

In the Nordic countries a number of media-related inquiries are underway. In focus are the media market and the conditions for its operators, public service media's role and financing, as well as how media policies should be developed to support media diversity, freedom of expression, and democracy in the future. Read more

 

By: MAARIT JAAKKOLA