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Public broadcaster Yle to slash a third of production

Outsourcing to replace large portion of in-house production amidst fears of mass job losses.

Yle, the Finnish Broadcasting Company, is planning to cut production by a third and increase its purchasing of outsourced services. The move foreshadows substantial redundancy talks this autumn.

The company’s production departments Yle Tuotanto and Design currently employ 466 people – 309 in Helsinki and 157 in Tampere. A cut in production by a third would result in over 150 job losses.

If the downsizing goes ahead, it will be one of the most drastic in Finnish media history. Precise details of the cutback will emerge when the redundancy talks convene.

Yle employees received the news of the impending cuts in a “funereal mood”, chief shop steward, Pike Epstein, told the UJF magazine Journalisti.

Epstein said that Yle staff consider that the company is planning bigger prior cutbacks and changes by 2020 than required by the parliamentary Yle working group’s guidance on outsourcing.

The working group’s guidelines propose an increase by up to 35% in purchases from external operators by 2022.

Yle employees also consider the order in which the company is introducing the changes to be dubious: first to cut production and then look at what content to generate.

The UJF has stressed the need for the redundancy talks to proceed with care and due caution.

“It’s important to make sure that employees are genuinely listened to at the talks and that they take into account all points of view,” said UJF lawyer Maija Raninen.

“Yle employees are highly skilled, and the company has itself said that there will continue to be a need for skilled people. It must ensure that the company does not repeat the media industry’s past mistakes and outsource so much that production ceases to function,” said UJF president Hanne Aho.

YOT, the association of Yle programme employees, has called on the company to ensure that Yle workers are genuinely included in talks on the future of the public broadcaster.