Working group: Parliamentary consensus on the duties and funding of YLE
A parliamentary working group, under the leadership of its chair Arto Satonen, has reviewed the Finnish Broadcasting Company YLE's funding and its role as a public service provider. The group did not discuss or take a stand on the contents of YLE's programmes.
The working group achieved a parliamentary understanding of the policy lines on YLE's future. It widely consulted the media sector as well as other relevant stakeholders and specialists.
The working group proposes that changes be made to the funding of YLE, the role of the Administrative Council, and the programme purchases from independent producers, for example. The group also proposes that measures be taken to increase cooperation in the sector.
YLE tax remains unchanged
The working group does not propose any changes to the actual funding system of YLE. This means that the YLE tax remains unchanged.
The working group proposes that no index increase be applied to YLE's funding for 2017-2019. This is justified by the overall economic situation of the central government. However, the parliamentary groups will assess the economic situation in autumn 2018 and review the possibility to apply an index increase for 2019. The group further proposes that a standard index procedure be applied after 2020. This way the funding is viewed from a seven-year perspective.
The working group also proposes that YLE's funding should be outside the government spending limits. In order to safeguard YLE's independence it is justified not to include a public service tax in the government spending limits.
Greater role for the Administrative Council
The working group proposes that the Administrative Council be given a more substantial role in future and made responsible for YLE's strategy. A permanent procedure of expert consultation would also be established. The Administrative Council may consult experts about the company strategy and annual reports to Parliament on the implementation of its public service duties. The experts must assess YLE as a public service provider and estimate the effects of YLE's operations on the communications markets.
The working group also proposes that each political party with at least three MP seats must be represented in the Administrative Council.
More programmes from independent producers
The working group proposes that YLE purchase more programmes from domestic and European independent producers, and increase acquisition of production services and other domestic remuneration by 30-35 per cent by 2022.
The Administrative Council would decide the priorities and schedule of the purchases from independent producers. Such matters as the development of the indie markets and the quality and availability of the productions should be taken into account.
When arranging competitions YLE should ensure that the productions it commissions comply with law and the rules of the collective agreements.
Cooperation in the media sector promoted
It is proposed that the public service duties of YLE will in main parts remain unchanged. However, some revisions are suggested.
YLE's duties would include promotion of freedom of expression, high-quality journalism and versatility of the media. In order to meet these goals YLE should aim to cooperate with other media as far as it is possible in terms of competition law, state aid rules and copyright. Cooperation must benefit both sides.
The working group also proposes that YLE would start negotiations with the commercial media with the aim of becoming a customer of the Finnish news agency Suomen Tietotoimisto or becoming involved in another arrangement that would safeguard basic news service in Finland, which is important for versatile media.
The group also gave some proposals on how to promote the environment for commercial communication.
It stresses the importance of daily news service also in commercial television operations and proposes that the Government would consider setting up a separate working group to find ways of ensuring the continuity of commercial television operations.
The public service mission would be specified so that YLE must provide public service contents in public communications networks nationally and regionally. The proposed formulation would replace the current wording, according to which YLE may provide content services in public communications networks nationally and regionally.
Inquiries: Mr Arto Satonen, MP, chair of the National Coalition Party parliamentary group, chair of the working group, tel. +358 50 511 3110