Must-carry obligation for radio programmes to be removed

Ministry of Transport and Communications
Publication date 27.6.2024 14.00 | Published in English on 28.6.2024 at 10.35
Press release
Image: Tuomas Uusheimo, Keksi/LVM.

The Government proposes that the President of the Republic approve the amendments to the Act on Electronic Communication Services and that the Act enter into force on 1 July 2024. The must-carry obligation for radio programmes would be removed from the Act, the provision on the revocation of radio licences would be amended and other technical amendments would be made. After a one-year transition period, the must-carry obligation for radio would end on 1 July 2025.

The current must-carry obligation obliges telecom operators providing cable television network services to transmit the television and radio programming of the Finnish Broadcasting Company YLE in their networks. Administrators of joint antenna networks, such as housing companies, have been obliged to ensure that the YLE television and radio broadcasts are available in their systems. The must-carry obligation with regard to YLE’s radio programmes would now be removed. Although the obligation only pertains to YLE’s programming, the distribution of commercial radio is likely to end at the same time in the cable networks where it has still been distributed.

The distribution of radio programmes on cable television networks limits the development of cable broadband services and the use of the network, as it prevents more efficient frequency allocation and the transition to newer technologies. A significant number of households use broadband services, which rely on cable networks. At the end of 2022, about 530,000 households had broadband access.

Very few people, on the other hand, listen to cable radio. The removal of the must-carry obligation would likely affect around 25,500 to 50,000 households.

In addition, the amendment would complement the provision on the revocation of radio licences. In future, the licence could also be revoked if, for example, the holder of the radio licence endangers national security.

The government proposal containing the amendments was circulated for comments from 21 February to 15 March 2024. Comments were requested on a broader proposal. For the subsequent preparatory work, it was divided into two separate proposals to streamline and facilitate the consideration by Parliament. The first amendment proposal was approved on 13 June 2024.

Emergency warning communication must be developed

According to the Ministry of Transport and Communications’ assessment, removing the must-carry obligation would not significantly weaken emergency warning communication. Radio is just one of the channels that transmit emergency warnings. As a result of the change, cable radio listeners would need to use an alternative distribution method to receive radio programmes. However, the majority of listeners receive radio programmes through antenna distribution, which is not affected by the legislative amendment.

The Finnish National Rescue Association and the National Emergency Supply Agency recommend that households acquire battery-operated radios with spare batteries to prepare for various exceptional situations and disruptions.

The Ministry of Transport and Communications considers it important that a project be launched under the leadership of the Ministry of the Interior for the development of emergency warning communication as soon as possible. The Ministry of the Interior is responsible for emergency warning communication as a whole.

Next steps

The President of the Republic is to approve the bill on 28 June 2024. The Act would enter into force on 1 July 2024, but the must-carry obligation for radio programmes would end after a transition period of one year on 1 July 2025.

Cable radio listeners must be prepared to use other distribution methods for listening to the radio after 30 June 2025. Most commonly, people listen to the radio through antenna distribution or via the internet.


Roosa Patrakka, Senior Officer, tel. +358 295 342 192, [email protected]