News / 25.03.2010

Decision on how to finance Finnish broadcaster placed on hold

Having failed to reach agreement, it means another public broadcasting bill on a funding mode and governance structure and will have to wait until 2011 when a new government comes to power.

Last year a working group composed of all the various parties in parliament reached an agreement that the current system of television license fees be scrapped and replaced by a public tax – so-called media fee – on all households irrespective of whether they owned television sets or not.

But support for that decision has now unraveled after one year. Minister for Communication Suvi Linden withdrew the new the bill saying it did not have broad support among members of the coalition government and therefore would not be passed.

An alternative proposal which seems to command a broader appeal is to finance YLE’s operations from the state budget. All parties across the political spectrum except the National Coalition party which is part of the coalition seem to warm up to this idea.

According to the parliamentary factions YLE’s current financial level of 480 million needs to be secured because television license fees over the past years have been falling. There has been estimated drop of 15000-2000 annually the number of people paying license fees.

However, publicly funding YLE from state budget also raises concerns that its financial security would be jeopardized because politicians would have debate every year how much to allocate to the broadcaster.

Experts say that the earlier system of a household media fee that was agreed has unraveled due to intense lobbying by private media companies who fear YLE’s dominance in the market is distorting competition.

Also at stake is the future governing structure of the public broadcaster which would be included in the new legislation proposal in 2011. Opponents, especially other media houses demand an independent outside organ to monitor the affairs of YLE saying, the current system of the governing board also acting as monitors does not meet the EU regulations.

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