The UJF and Finnmedia, representing employees and employers respectively, have agreed on the best way to support reliable media through the Covid-19 crisis. The two organisations have called on the government to decide urgently on support for media impacted by the corona pandemic.
The union and Finnmedia have proposed that support be aimed at bolstering the production of journalistic content. Temporary support could be targeted at those media most affected by the loss of advertising sales during the present crisis. In this way it could go directly towards content production and would support the media’s operating conditions throughout Finland.
The pandemic and the measures taken to contain it have quickly paralysed media sales, the second financial mainstay of journalism along with subscription fees. Over half of media companies have had to impose staff layoffs. As the crisis persists, the sector is under threat of redundancies and bankruptcies. The biggest danger is the collapse of provincial and local media.
“The situation facing the industry is serious. Finland needs urgent support that covers it as extensively as possible and is sufficiently effective in scale. During an emergency, the media cannot simply put up a sign and say it’ll be back when things get better”, said Finnmedia managing director Jukka Holmberg.
The corona crisis has accentuated the differences in media policy between Finland and the other Nordic countries. In Sweden, Norway, and Denmark the role of commercial media in supporting democracy is appreciated. Such countries have already increased financial support for the media by between €24 – €64-million due to the corona pandemic.
Under normal circumstances they also provide €50 – €80-million to support journalism. In Finland, support for minority language news media this year amounts to €0.5-million, and that for cultural magazines is €0.8-million. At the same time, media taxation is appreciably higher in Finland than in other Nordic countries.
The UJF and Finnmedia consider it excellent that, in addition to support during the corona crisis, the Ministry of Transport and Communications has started to plan a permanent system of media support.
“The UJF and Finnmedia will put all our background information, expertise, and networks at the disposal of the ministry’s draftspersons, if desired”, declared UJF president Hanne Aho.