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Hanne Aho: media policy programme’s measures are good. What about the funding?

“It’s inadequate and unsustainable that there’s virtually no funding available for the proposed measures,” says UJF president Hanne Aho.

The UJF has lauded the government’s new media policy programme for the many good measures it contains to ensure the future and prosperity of the media.

In its opinion presented to the Ministry of Transport and Communications the UJF says that the measures must be implemented as a package, and it expressed concern at the lack of funding is being set aside to carry out them out.

“It’s inadequate and unsustainable that there’s virtually no funding available for the proposed measures,” says Aho.

The media policy programme contains the pledge to reduce VAT on digital papers, magazines and books to the same level as print versions when EU directive 2006/112/EC is amended to allow for the move.

“This is an extremely important decision,” says Aho.

“Finland must also influence things so that a reduced tax rate can apply to other digital content too. If the amendment to the directive doesn’t rapidly make headway Finland should adopt the Danish model of compensation for VAT on digital content. This is because it could still take many years to find a common approach on VAT in Europe.”

The working group on media policy, headed by the Minister of Transport and Communications Anne Berner, lists in its programme a range of other measures to support the media sector.

They include predictability concerning media regulation, support for the renewal of the Finnish News Agency (STT), and orienting media literacy and media education for new target groups.

The programme also separately mentions countering the spread of disinformation, hate speech, and illegal content. The UJF says in its opinion that it regrets the lack of definite measures by the government on hate speech.

“Threats against journalists should be included in law as aggravating factors in convictions. It is obvious that the intimidation of journalists is a threat to the overall functioning of democracy,” says Aho.

“It’s also important that social media platforms are held accountable for hate content disseminated on them, and that the authorities have sufficient resources to oversee the laws pertaining to them.”