Finnish Broadcasting Company cutting services for Finnish expatriates
Radio Finland considers dropping short wave and medium wave broadcasts
The Finnish Broadcasting Company (YLE) has plans to axe the traditional short wave and medium wave broadcasts of the company’s external service, Radio Finland.
After such a move, the broadcasts of the company’s external service would still be available on satellite, as well as on its fee-based Internet service.
The decision would amount to a considerable cutback on YLE services to Finns living abroad.
"No decision has been made, but a shutdown is under serious consideration", says Heikki Peltonen, head of programming at the YLE unit responsible for Radio Finland. He says that the company’s Administrative Council will probably take up the issue in the autumn.
The cutback in distribution of Radio Finland programming is prompted by YLE’s need to slim down costs. The broadcasting costs of Radio Finland are an annual EUR 3.4 million.
"Running costs need to be reduced. YLE is trying to get by with the budget it had in 2001 all the way until 2008", Peltonen says, noting that any increases in costs have to be balanced by cuts elsewhere.
Radio Finland is the only free source of information in Finnish and Swedish reaching expatriate Finns in almost every corner of the world. Its programming is compiled from broadcasts on YLE’s domestic radio channels.
The channel also has six journalists who produce programmes aimed at expatriate Finns.
The most popular Radio Finland programmes are devotional programmes, news, and sport.
About 250,000 Finnish citizens live abroad. The number of Finns who spend at least some time abroad for reasons of work is constantly growing. Peltonen notes that although no listener studies have been made, he estimates that Radio Finland has tens of thousands of listeners.
The head of Radio Finland, Juhani Niinistö, says that shutting down short wave and medium wave broadcasts would probably lead to a sharp reduction in listeners, as the Internet is very expensive and difficult to use in many countries.
He also notes that satellite equipment is expensive, and that it is not available everywhere - even in the United States and Australia.
Peltonen admits that the decision would amount to a weakening of service: "Especially for expatriate Finns who move around much, a world band radio has been a handy device."
YLE has already axed nearly all foreign language services abroad. The 2002 decision was based on YLE’s desire to focus on serving Finns living abroad.
"However, there are no plans to completely shut down services for Finns abroad", Peltonen promises.
Previously in HS International Edition:
Sharp cuts planned in foreign language broadcasting of Radio Finland (29.5.2002)
YLE, Finnish Broadcasting Company