“Media fee” to replace TV licence
Working group calls for changes in YLE strategy
The management of the Finnish Broadcasting Company (YLE) will have to rewrite action strategy that it recently drafted, if proposals made public on Thursday by the working group headed by MP Mika Lintilä (Centre) are implemented.
Lintilä says that the aim is to put the brakes on YLE’s new “enabler strategy”, under which YLE distributes information produced with public money to telecommunications and media companies for free.
“The aim is that YLE would no longer take part in underpriced wholesale activities”, Lintilä says.
Commercial media companies have been worried that YLE’s new, more generous policy line might be a threat to the Finnish News Agency STT, which sells the same news that YLE is offering for free.
The working group also calls for closer scrutiny of YLE through its Administrative Council, which is appointed by Parliament.
Lintilä says that the Administrative Council is to be given a stronger role in YLE, assessing all significant new operations, and making sure that YLE does not engage in price dumping.
In other respects, YLE would not change very much. Two new public service obligations would be coming, though: the company will be required to archive its production, and serve as a “national memory”, and to produce more programming for the youth market.
Financing of YLE operations would come from a new “media fee”, which would replace the licence fee that owners of television sets are required to pay.
The new fee would be introduced in 2011, and would be paid by all households. Also liable for the fee would be companies with an annual turnover of more than EUR 400,000.
The proposed fee would differ from the television fee in that all households would be required to pay it regardless of whether or not they own a television, radio, or computer. About 97 per cent of Fins use at least some YLE services on a weekly basis.
Plans are for the fee to be EUR 175, which is a quarter less than the current price of a TV licence.
The rationale behind the new media fee is that Finns today are increasingly watching television programmes on their computers, which do not require payment of a licence fee.
The fee would initially yield about EUR 450 million, of which YLE would get about EUR 415 million to cover its operations, which is EUR 20 million more than what YLE now gets from the TV fees.
Under the plan, financing of YLE operations is to be decided every four years.
Lintilä’s working group included representatives of all parties in Parliament, so it is likely that its proposals will be passed. The aim is to bring the proposed legislation before Parliament this year.
Previously in HS International Edition:
Finnish Broadcasting Company YLE to join forces with commercial companies (5.5.2008)
Financing YLE operations through digital TV smart card gets support (14.12.2007)
Sharp decline in number of TV licences after switch to digital TV (6.11.2007)
Decreased willingness to pay TV licence fees blamed on poor public image of Finnish Broadcasting Company (8.9.2005)