Media Landscapes

Finland

Written by Jyrki JyrkiÀinen

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Finland is an industrially highly developed and technologically advanced, sparsely inhabited country with a population of 5.3 million. The area is of 338,000 km² with a density of 17.2 persons per km². At the beginning of 2009, there were a total of 348 municipalities, 63 of which were urban municipalities, 66 semi-urban municipalities and 219 rural municipalities.

Officially Finland is a bilingual country including a Swedish-speaking population of 289,685 people or 5.4 percent, mostly living along the western and southern coastline. The Swedish-speaking Finns represent the “second national culture”. In Lapland, the Sámi people form a constitutionally protected minority of 7,000 people, of those Sámi-language speakers are 1,700 people. Some 143,000 speak a foreign language as mother language. There are 2.46 million households, the share of aged population is slightly increasing, 28 percent of women aged 25-54 are employed outside the home. The share of mass media of GPD has declined by a half a percentage point to 2.5 percent during the past decade. All these conditions along with economic, cultural, political and technological factors have influences on the operational preconditions of mass media. (Jyrkiäinen 2008.)

The public service television and radio of the Finnish Broadcasting Company YLE are financed by licence fees, which make up about 90 percent of the total turnover (381 million euro in 2008). In addition to producing and purchasing cultural programmes, the YLE finances the Radio Symphony Orchestra, is a co-financer and co-producer in feature film production and pays considerable copyright and neighboring rights compensation to copyright organisations. All these expenditures amount to about 18 percent of the total turnover of YLE.

  • There are 31 seven-day dailies, more than in any other Nordic country
  • It is the third country in the world for newspaper consumption with 483 copies per 1000 inhabitants
  • Newspapers are strong in subscriptions and early-morning delivery
  • 76 percent of the population older then 10 reads a daily newspaper or afternoon paper
  • Two major publishers account for 56 percent of the aggregate circulation of  dailies
  • Of all 51 dailies, 11 titles appear outside chain ownerships

The main products of the print industry in Finland are newspapers, periodicals and books. Other products include printed advertising material, forms, packages, calendars and labels. The share of print media on the total mass media turnover is still 69 percent, though its relative share has slowly decreased and that of electronic media risen. The biggest share of the print media, 29 percent of the total volume, comes to newspapers.

The structure of Finnish newspaper industry is mixed: it is based on a few strong nationwide newspapers, on a wide regional daily press, and on numerous local papers. The structural elements are significant due to their influence to where and how advertising is sold, and on the types of advertisers that use newspaper type publications. Most of the circulation, up to 60 percent, results from newspapers tied to large provincial cities and to local municipalities.

The newspaper industry has been relatively stable in the sixty post-war years. There are seven nationwide dailies, published 4-7 times a week in the Helsinki area, with a share of 40 percent or 857,200 copies of the total newspaper circulation. The great majority of circulation of these capital area dailies comes to the two main publishers: Sanoma News with 67 percent and Alma Media with 24 percent (Suomen Lehdistö 6-7/2009).

The number of localities with three or four rival dailies has decreased dramatically since the 1950s. Competition among daily newspapers in a locality is today an exception. In 2008, there are more than two dailies only in Helsinki and Oulu. There are nine localities with two papers. In three of them circulate two Finnish-language newspapers and in four both a Finnish-language and a Swedish-language newspaper. Only in the provincial capital of the autonomous Åland Islands, Maarianhamina, there are two Swedish-language newspapers in a competitive market. (Jyrkiäinen & Sauri 1997, 38; Finnish Press 6-7/2009.)

Like the other Nordic nations the Finns have long been avid newspaper readers. Newspaper readers in Finland rank first in the EU with 483 copies and third in the world, after Japan with 612 copies and Norway with 571 copies sold per 1,000 inhabitants in 2008 (World Press Trends 2009). The average for the Nordic countries is 382 copies per 1,000 inhabitants.

Economic statistics lend support to this image: the share of newspapers over mass media turnover (31 percent) and advertising revenue (52 percent) remain very high. In 2008, the penetration of newspapers in age groups over 12 years was 79 percent.

The number of newspapers was the highest in 1990 with 252 titles. In 2008, a total of 197 newspaper titles were published, with an aggregate circulation of 3.054 million copies. Of these, 51 are dailies appearing 4-7 times a week, with a circulation of 2.127 million copies and an average of 30,271 copies.

Every day of the week 31 dailies are published, more than in any other Nordic country, with a circulation of 1.603 million copies. The average circulation of every-day dailies is 51,717. Eight papers are published six times a week with 348,000 copies, with an average circulation of 43,560 copies. Eight papers appear five times a week with 143,000 copies with average circulation of 17,912 copies. Four papers appear four times a week with 32,000 copies and with an average of 7,896.

There are 146 non-dailies, appearing 1-3 times a week, with a total circulation of 927,000 copies and and an average circulation of 6,350 copies. The number of give-away papers is about 140 titles with a total print of 5 million copies.

The share of dailies, issued 4-7 times a week, is 70 percent of total circulation and that of seven-day dailies is 53 percent. Looking at volume figures, circulation multiplied by the number of annual issues, the overwhelming majority comes from the more frequently appearing papers. The total volume of Finnish newspapers stood at 800 million copies in 2008. The share of the seven-day dailies over the total newspaper volume is 72 percent or 573 million copies, and that of six-day dailies is 13 percent or 106 million copies. The remaining papers appearing 5-1 times a week, are 15 percent with 122 million copies (Sanomalehdet.fi).    

Traditionally, most (27) of seven-day dailies (total 31 titles) appear currently in broadsheet format. On the contrary, of all six-day dailies (8) and five-day dailies (8) most (six) appear in tabloid format. Only two of all four-day dailies appear in broadsheet format. Of all other newspapers, only five appear in broadsheet format.

Swedish-language tradition

Twelve newspapers are published in Swedish, eight of them are dailies. Ten of them appear in the cities on the southern and western coastal areas and two in Maarianhamina on the Åland Islands autonomous province. The most eastern Swedish-language newspaper Östra Nyland (founded 1881) appears in Loviisa, 87 kilometres east of Helsinki. Total circulation of Swedish-language papers is 153,000, or 5 percent of the aggregate newspaper circulation, that is less than the total percentage of Swedish-speakers, which is 5.4 percent of the national population. All but two of these newspapers are politically independent.

A historical curiosity is that four of the oldest Finnish newspapers which still appear are in Swedish language. The oldest newspaper in Finland which is still published is the Swedish-language Åbo Underrättelser (founded 1824, circulation 7,500) published five days a week in Turku, the former capital city.

The other three oldest newspapers are Vasabladet (1856, circ. 23,693), Borgåbladet (1860, circ.7,967) and HBL (former Hufvudstadsbladet, 1864, circ. 51,162). The oldest Finnish-language newspaper still appearing is Keskisuomalainen (1871) in Jyväskylä. Of all 12 Swedish-language newspapers, eight belong to the 30 oldest newspapers in Finland.

Economy effects

The mass media are highly dependent on the fluctuations of general national economy. The effects of economic recession vary between various media: especially the print media have suffered the weakening of the economic environment since autumn 2008. As a reaction to the worsening economic environment, newspaper publishers have made structural changes, discontinued loss-making operations, and taken cost-saving measures. The measures taken often fall on the printed version of the newspapers, while the Internet version has been evolved.

For instance, the biggest Swedish-language newspaper, Hufvudstadsbladet, was not published during the four Mondays of July 2009. A left-wing newspaper, Kansan Uutiset, recently announced a reduction in its issuing from four times to once a week from September 2009, which means it will continue as a weekly (circ. 14,633 copies) and as a ’daily’ on the Internet. The social-democratic regional paper Uusi Aika in Pori (circ. 6,283) reduced its appearing, from three to two times a week, from the beginning of 2010.

About a hundred journalists have lost their job during 2009, according to the Union of Journalists in Finland. Another hundred have been laid off for a limited period. More than a thousand journalists gave up in the negotiations of their holiday bonuses for leisure time or without compensation. Mandatory employer/employee co-operation negotiations are in progress in several Finnish media houses.

The editorial cooperation between newspapers is consolidating: eight regional newspapers have agreed on the beginning of close cooperation in the delivery of foreign news from the beginning of September 2009. The papers established a common foreign news desk of four editors in Helsinki besides the foreign correspondent network of the cooperative papers and foreign news services of the Finnish News Agency STT.

Towards non-affiliation

The overwhelming majority of Finnish newspapers are non-affiliated. The party press proper or newspapers declared loyal to a party are a few in number, their circulation and number of pages are smaller than on average and they appear less frequently.

A trend since World War II has been for party newspapers to declare themselves politically unaffiliated, resulting in a gradual decline of the party-political press. In, 1910, of  117 general newspapers only 20 did not have a party affiliation, and in 1925 the figure was 11 out of 109. In 1946, only 35 percent of total circulation was provided by unaffiliated papers. In 1950, the structure of newspapers was still that of the political press system. The trend towards unaffiliated newspapers strengthened from 1950 to 1970. In 1997, the Finnish Newspapers Association had 214 members of which only 18 had a formal party affiliation (Salokangas 1999, 95-97).

Some 90 percent of Finnish newspaper titles declare they are politically unaffiliated. The grade of affiliation between a paper and a party actually varies, and if one speaks about a party newspaper it does not mean the paper is under the authority of a given party. The ties might be loose and still grant the independence of a newspaper that is somehow near or loyal to a given political movement. In the course of 50 years, the party papers have used subtitles like ‘organ’, ‘independent centrist’ or ‘independent leftist’ depending on the position of the paper towards the official organisation.

There are 23 newspapers announcing a party or political affiliation. The Social Democratic Party has nine newspapers (aggregate circulation 66,189), the Left Alliance has four titles (26,828), the National Coalition Party has a weekly (24,000), the Centre Party has three papers (16,897), the Green League of Finland has a weekly (5,106), the Christian Democrats a weekly (3,515), the True Finns a monthly (25,000), and the Swedish People's Party has a bimonthly paper (35,000). The aggregate circulation of politically affiliated newspapers accounts for 6.4 percent of the total circulation of all newspapers.

Only three parties have newspapers appearing more than once a week: the Social Democratic Party has as its organ the five-day daily Uutispäivä Demari (Helsinki, circ. 15,500 copies), the three-day papers Uusi Aika (Pori, circ. 7,000) and Pohjolan Työ (Oulu, circ. 5,800). Moreover, the SDP has five weeklies: Viikko-Häme (Hämeenlinna and Lahti, circ. 8,300), Viikko Pohjois-Karjala (Joensuu, circ. 7,200), Keski-Suomen Viikko (Jyväskylä, circ. 6,700), Viikko-Eteenpäin (Kotka, circ. 5,400) and Viikko Vapaus (Mikkeli, circ. 2,000) as well as a Swedish-language weekly Arbetarbladet (Helsinki, circ. 2,000).

The Centre Party's organ is Suomenmaa that appears as a four-day nationwide daily in Helsinki (circ. 7,700), and as a five-day daily (former Liitto) for North Bothnia in Oulu (circ. 2,600). The Centre has in addition the three-day paper Karjalan Maa in Joensuu (circ. 3,400), and a weekly Lalli in Pori (circ. 3,000).

The Left Alliance's organ is the weekly Kansan Uutiset published in Helsinki (circ. 14,600), the three-day paper Kansan Tahto in Oulu (circ. 6,900), the weekly Satakunnan Työ in Pori (circ. 3,200), as well as the Swedish-language Ny Tid in Helsinki (former Folktidningen Ny Tid, circ. 2,000). The organ Kansan Uutiset announced in September 2009 a change from a four-day daily to a Friday-weekly that has been delivered until now to the subscribers of a party weekly in Oulu or Pori. Of all other seven parties in the parliament, three have a weekly, two a monthly and two a bimonthly paper.

Party news from web

The input of big parties into the Internet increased explosively at the beginning of 2009 when the earmark was removed from the parliamentary press subsidy. Now the press subsidy is a part of the general party subsidies and a party can decide quite freely how much to allocate to its paper. The Centre will use for its Verkkoapila website less than a million euro in 2009 and the Social Democrats 300,000 euro for the website SDP 24d. At the same time the support of Uutispäivä Demari newspaper will fall to 50,000 euro in 2009.

Even though the money available for parties has increased, the money for party newspapers has diminished. Today, the chief organs of the four biggest parties have a competitor in their own party and on its numerous websites. The net allows more cost-efficient tools than print papers but the money could be spent equally well on the developing of the websites of the papers in question. For example, in the Social Democratic Party there are four net addresses: SDP.fi, 24d.fi, the reilusuomi.fi and the demari.fi.

The National Coalition Party has even more web addresses. When the parties invest in the net, the party newspapers are impoverished. So the quantitative diversity, at least, of the newspaper supply does not increase. It actually decreases while the number of communications media increases when the competition between parties accelerates on the online arenas.

The parties' own news webpages can be considered as a kind of a return to a time when the four biggest parties each had its own press agency. Now the National Coalition Party has Netnews, Netclover is owned by the Centre, 24d by the Social democrats and the Left alliance has the online magazine Verstas. On the other hand, parties have their printed organs: the National Coalition Party's organ is Nykypäivä, Suomenmaa for the Centre, Uutispäivä Demari for the SDP and Kansan Uutiset for the Left alliance.

The future of party newspapers depends on the development of press subsidy and on the pace at which parties will invest on web papers, online services and social media. In the final stages of the last elections all parties seemed to activate the brand new forms of social media on the cost of printed papers. Parties intensively developed the party websites and created newly tailored portals with interactive channels as well as space for video clips and photos from the party members and from wider audiences.

High print consumption

The consumption of newspapers in Finnish households slightly decreased when measured by subscriptions. In 2008, the number of households stood at 2.46 million. The aggregate circulation of all newspapers, 3.0 million copies, divided up by the total number of households would suffice 1.2 annual subscriptions per household. In 1990, the respective figure stood at 2.0 per household. This means there are clearly less newspapers available and accessible for the average 2.8 million people living in the families compared to ten years ago.

On average, Finns read newspapers 34 minutes per day in 2007. A comparison of Nordic media usage surveys from 2008 show daily reading of newspapers applies daily to 79 percent of the population older than 12 years, when the share stood at 81 percent in 2007. For younger age groups, from 20 to 24 years, it is 66 percent (70 percent in 2007), and for older age groups, over 65 years, 87 percent (88 percent in 2007). (Nordic Media Policy 2/2009).

The Finnish newspaper market is typically based for 88 percent on subscriptions and only 12 percent on single copy sales. The amount of subscriptions is in decrease. There are some underlying reasons for this according to empirical studies. Such factors include poor economic resources, unemployment, low-level income, working population, people living in rental apartments; unsuitable living habits in the case of youths, students, unmarried, single parents, renters; and minor integration into the society for larger groups including movers, political passive, the unemployed, immigrants. While a part of the middle-aged gets unaccustomed to newspapers for these reasons, a new generation grows that learns from their parents it is not worth to subscribe to a newspaper. The next generations may acquire otherwise different consumer habits and ways of use of mass media. (Hujanen 2007.)

Newspapers from chains

In 2008, there were 20 newspaper publishing chains in Finland. Here, a publishing chain means a company with at least two newspapers, free distribution papers excluded. Of all dailies, issued 4-7 times a week, 11 newspapers appear outside the newspaper chains. Of seven-day dailies, four titles appear independent outside the chains. Three chains publish Swedish-language newspapers and two of them in addition a Finnish-language newspaper each. In all, six companies out of 20 publish only non dailies or local newspapers, issued 1-3 times a week.

According to the circulation figures of dailies, published 4-7 times a week, the share of the four biggest publishers was 68.7 percent and that of the eight biggest 82.0 percent. The two biggest groups account for 55.8 percent of the total circulation of dailies. The biggest chain with five dailies, Sanoma News (the renamed newspaper division of the Sanoma Group) accounts for 32 percent and the second biggest Alma Media with 10 dailies accounts for 24 percent. (Suomen Lehdistö 6-7/2009.)

When comparing companies by circulation figures, one must note the shares of net sales (i.e. newspaper subscriptions, single copy and advertising sales combined) give a more adequate understanding of the market power of publishing companies than those of circulation figures. But there is no data available on net sales of Finnish newspapers for the year 2008, because only very few dailies announced the paper-specific figures to the special annual issue by the Finnish Newspapers Association.

Relatively large

If one looks at the size of all Finnish firms in terms of turnover, the biggest media companies do not place among the 20 largest companies. The big firms of electronics, forest industry, energy, trading, metal, banking and financing are at the top. In all, there were 11 media companies among the 500 largest firms in 2008, so one could say the largest media companies are only relative big. (Talouselämä 21/2009, 38-57.) There were four Finnish firms among the top 20 media companies in the Nordic countries by revenue in 2007: Sanoma placed 2nd, YLE 16th, TS Group 18th and Alma Media 19th (The Nordic Media Market 2009).

In 2008, the biggest media and newspaper company Sanoma, with a revenue of 3.030 million euro, placed 22nd in the ranking of the 500 largest firms of Finland. The largest firm is 16 times larger than Sanoma. The second largest media company is the Finnish Broadcasting Company YLE, with 381 million euro, ranking at 146th place. The third largest is newspaper house Alma Media, with 341 million euro, appearing in the 159th place, and the fourth largest media house is TS-Group with 306 million euro in the 170th place.

The remaining media firms ranking among the 500 largest firms are: the books and magazines group Otava (211th), the broadcasting company MTV Media (244th), the state-owned publishing house Edita (405th), the newspaper house Keskisuomalainen (438th), the printing and newspaper house Pohjois-Karjalan Kirjapaino (452nd), the magazine publisher A-Lehdet (475th), and the new entry among the top 500 firms is media company Talentum (486th) with a turnover of 93 million euro. (Talouselämä 21/2009, 38-57.)

If we take into consideration all the media companies operating in Finland, the Swedish Bonnier placed third after Sanoma and YLE according to revenue in 2007. Bonnier has television channels, as MTV3, Sub and pay-TV channels, and the nationwide radio channel Radio Nova, books, magazines, records and videos. Bonnier's share of revenue over Finland's total revenue was 11 percent in 2007 (The Nordic Media Market 2009).

Major publisher

Sanoma group has grown to be a European media operator by expanding its operations into Eastern and Central Europe and Russia. It covers all main media activities, excluding television programmes and film production or music publishing. Sanoma is the second biggest media corporation in the Nordic countries. According to its annual report, Sanoma earned 49 percent of the turnover from Finland, 46 percent from other EU countries and five percent from other countries in 2008. Of total net sales, 52 percent came from outside Finland in 2008 while the same share stood at eight percent in 1999. (Sanoma Annual Report 2008.)

Sanoma's core business is magazine publishing in 13 European countries; 37 percent of net sales comes from magazines and of that, 16 percent is made in Finland. 27 percent comes from retail: from kiosk trade, press distribution, book stores and entertainment services. The company earns 14 percent of total sales from newspapers, 11 percent from education material and books and 11, percent from digital media. According to Sanoma’s annual report, with 37 percent magazine publishing accounted for relative the majority of Sanoma’s net sales, while newspapers accounted for 14 percent in 2008.

Swedish-language chains

The biggest Swedish-language newspaper group, comprising the four papers belonging to the KSF Media Ab chain, control 48 percent of the total circulation in that language. The share of KSF Media in the total circulation of Finnish dailies is 3.3 percent. The leading paper is seven-day daily HBL (former Hufvudstadsbladet, cir. 51,162) in Helsinki, the three other papers are: six-day daily Västra Nyland (circ. 10,971, Tammisaari), five-day daily Borgåbladet (circ. 7,967, Porvoo) and three-day paper Östra Nyland (circ. 3,753, Loviisa). KSF Media Ab owns in addition a share of 20 percent of seven-day daily Österbottens Tidning (Pietarsaari).

The second biggest Swedish-language newspaper group is HSS Media with a share of 31 percent. HSS Media publishes three papers: seven-day daily Vasabladet (circ. 23,693, Vaasa), seven-day daily Österbottens Tidning (owned by a share of 80 percent, circ. 15,723) and three-day paper Syd-Österbotten (circ. 7,410, Närpiö). The second-last daily is the newest on the market and was born when two Swedish-language dailies in neighboring cities, Jakobstads Tidning in Pietarsaari (f. 1898) and Österbottningen in Kokkola (f. 1883), merged into the seven-day daily Österbottens Tidning in 2008.

The third group, with share of eight percent, is Förlag Ab Sydvästkusten with its five-day daily Åbo Underrättelser (circ. 7,531, Turku) and one-day paper Pargas Kungrörelser (circ. 4,915, Parainen).

Amongst Swedish-language newspapers in Finland, we must also note the independent six-day daily Åland (circ. 9,753, est. 1891) and the five-day daily Nya Åland (circ. 7,349, est. 1981), both appearing on Åland Islands, and the social-democratic weekly Arbetarbladet in Helsinki (f. 1919, circ. 2,093).

Special newspapers

In addition to national, regional and local newspapers there are at least six special nationwide newspapers profiled by content or for being dedicated to special target audiences. Some of these papers have a notable circulation. The country’s two tabloids are the biggest special newspapers.

So far, the saturation point of two Finnish tabloids reached a peak in 2001. The workday circulation of two afternoon papers was 354,000 copies when the previous peak happened in in 1991. (Kivioja 2008, 26-27.) In 2008, the aggregate circulation of the afternoon papers stood at 284,163 copies. Until now, Ilta-Sanomat reached the highest circulation in 1991 with 223,815 copies and Iltalehti in 2001 with 134,777 copies.

Another special newspaper is the only business daily Kauppalehti (The Business Journal, founded 1898, circulation 86,000 copies) issued five times a week and published by Alma Media. Maaseudun Tulevaisuus (The Rural Future, f. 1916) is specialized in agriculture, forestry, and life in the countryside. It appears three times a week with 84,000 copies. It is owned by the Farmers’ Union and has had a correspondent in Brussels since 1995 as Finland became a EU member. Hevosurheilu (Horse Sports, f. 1924) is issued two times a week by 25,000 copies for people interested in trotting and horse races. Kotimaa (Mother Country, f. 1905) is a Christian weekly with a circulation of 42,000 copies. All these special papers are part of a media family by the same publisher, including websites and other publications.

Newspaper content trends

A wide content analysis shows that differences in content between newspapers narrowed over time and that the topics covered and amount of coverage became more uniform among newspapers across the second half of the 1900s. Whereas there were large differences in what was covered and the amount of coverage in newspapers in the 1950s, there was high similarity in the profile of coverage in 2000. (Picard 2003, 116.)

The main data of a quantitative content coding on story types in newspapers was based on a sample week of November in 1955, 1970, 1990 and 2000 (N= 28,021 items). The sample consists of nine newspapers in the first three years and of six in the last study year, due to the closure of three papers. One week was chosen to represent each sample year: the second or third week of November, the dates ranging from the 9th to the 20th. (Jyrkiäinen & Nordenstreng 2003.)

In all kinds of newspapers, there were five story types that scored clearly the highest with this procedure. The story types Sports, Culture, Business, Foreign Countries and Transport ranked in each sample year among the first seven story types. Sports and Culture especially ranked high each year. The second group consisted of Local Government, Politics, Law and Order and Labour Market. The following story types rose steadily in numerical order Environment, Economy, Social Issues, European Integration, Home Economics and Consumer Protection, Travel and Equality. The story types Health Issues and Family gradually fell back. The rank order remained nearly unchanged in the story types Education System, Social Security and Opinion Polls.

The overall content trends of Finnish newspapers have been monitored by the Finnish Newspapers Association since 1985. At present the newspapers contents are biennially measured by the Journalism Research Unit at the University of Tampere.

In terms of percentage units, the share of home news nearly constantly decreased during the 1991-2006 period, and that of international news slightly decreased. Correspondingly, the share of entertainment has clearly increased and that of economy slightly increased. The proportion of radio and television pages has slightly increased and that of sports varied, but remained at the same level.

Newspapers structure

There are seven national dailies. The largest is the politically unaffiliated seven-day broadsheet Helsingin Sanomat of Sanoma News (412,421), the largest subscription-based daily in the Nordic countries. The other national papers include the country's two six-day afternoon papers, Ilta-Sanomat (161,615), founded in 1932 and belonging to Sanoma News, and Iltalehti (122,548), founded in 1980 and belonging to Alma Media.

Further national titles are the Swedish-language politically unaffiliated seven-day daily tabloid Hufvudstadsbladet (51,162), the Social Democratic five-day organ Uutispäivä Demari (15,447), the four-day organ of the Centre Party Suomenmaa (7,735), and the four-day organ of the Left Alliance Kansan Uutiset (7,361).

The provincial seven-day dailies in the main provincial towns are the leading papers in their respective markets. The following provincial broadsheet papers have a circulation that exceeds 50,000 copies and the average circulation of dailies, which was 41,698 copies in 2008: Aamulehti (Tampere), Turun Sanomat (Turku), Kaleva (Oulu), Keskisuomalainen (Jyväskylä), Savon Sanomat (Kuopio), Etelä-Suomen Sanomat (Lahti), Ilkka (Seinäjoki), Satakunnan Kansa (Pori), Karjalainen (Joensuu).

Keskisuomalainen, founded in 1871, is the oldest Finnish-language newspaper still published in Finland. In all, there are 32 Finnish-language and eight Swedish-language newspapers that are over 100 years old.

Among the provincial dailies, there are two with circulations over one hundred thousand, the second largest seven-day newspaper Aamulehti (139,130) in Tampere, and the third largest seven-day newspaper, Turun Sanomat (111,845) in Turku. Five newspapers are from central Finland: Pohjalainen in Vaasa, Ilkka in Seinäjoki, Keskisuomalainen in Jyväskylä, Savon Sanomat in Kuopio and Karjalainen in Joensuu, which publish a common Sunday supplement. The co-operative papers are not under the same ownership.

Biggest companies

Two major newspaper houses account for 56 percent of the aggregate circulation of the dailies. The largest company Sanoma News has five dailies with 659,353 total copies or a 32 percent share of aggregate circulation of newspapers. Sanoma publishes two national and three regional dailies, five local papers and nine free-of-charge papers including online editions and interactive services (Sanoma Online Services). The company owns the leading press picture agency of Finland, Lehtikuva, and is the leading general and education literature publisher. It also owns the largest cable television company, Welho, with 300,000 connections and is a major provider of broadband services in the metropolitan area. Its newest domestic media outlet are the local radio channel Radio Helsinki and the free-of-charge paper, Metro (320,000 copies).

The second largest newspaper house is Alma Media with its 10 dailies titles, a circulation of 505,676 or 24 percent of the total dailies. In addition, Alma Media publishes 15 local papers and thirteen free sheets. The broadcasting operations of Alma Media were transferred to the ownership of the Nordic Broadcasting Company, founded by the Swedish Bonnier in April 2005. After that Alma Media has profiled on publishing newspapers, producing financial information and providing online services. Alma Media’s Kauppalehti has a business information news bureau, Baltic News Service, operating in Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia. Alma Media has five marketplaces through Internet for domestic and European market consisting of classified services for real estate, used cars, used equipment, jobs and careers in Great Britain, Norway, Poland, Slovenia, Swed and Ukraine. In the autumn 2009 Alma Media made a bid to buy out the professional and business publisher Talentum. Alma made the mandatory tender offer after raising its ownership stake to more than 30 percent and prepared to pay more than 55 million euro for Talentum, which publishes the venerable economics magazine Talouselämä and the investment magazine Arvopaperi along with a range of professional literature, and runs a direct marketing unit. Alma has some 3,000 employees in 10 countries while Talentum has a staff of just over 800.

The third largest is Keskisuomalainen with four dailies with a circulation of 162,840 or 8 percent of total circulation and 16 local papers. The fourth is TS Group with two dailies (134,061 circulation) and six local papers. TS Group has a local free-on-air television channel Turku TV and wide printing operations by the Hansaprint.

The fifth is Ilkka Group with two dailies in neighboring cities Seinäjoki and Vaaasa and circulation of 82,245 copies or 4 percent of total circulation and five local papers.

In the ownership structure, there is an accelerating trend towards newspaper chains. In 2008, there were 20 newspaper chains in Finland, of which three published Swedish-language newspapers. The market share of the biggest media houses has grown through takeovers and mergers. The publishing of dailies is concentrated on five newspaper chains: Sanoma, Alma Media, Keskisuomalainen, Turun Sanomat Group and Ilkka Group, which control over a half of the dailies' total net sales in Finland.

The print newspaper industry in Finland is a mature industry with rather little growth potential. However, the number of seven-day dailies has increased by five titles since the end of the last century. The growth of the number in this category is due to the fact that the papers which earlier have appeared less often have added their appearance times. The readership of print newspapers has remained relative stable.

The trends indicate the share of newspaper advertising will decline in the future. However, if the share of the newspapers of advertising decreases while total advertising expenditure remains or decreases, that would mean for newspapers less income. If the share declines but total amount of advertising money increases, newspapers would receive more income despite the decreasing share. A long life change might be the newspapers will be less financially interesting to investors. The newspapers can of course gather the same amount or more advertising expenditures as media houses but the advertising is published more on their electronic platforms than on printed papers.

Magazines

The second biggest category in print media, after newspapers, are magazines and periodicals. Magazines accounted for 17.2 percent of the share of mass media market in 2008 – within the European average. Magazines and periodicals got a share of 13.4 percent from media advertising expenditure in 2008.

The total number of magazines stood at 3764 titles in 2007, including 400 consumer magazines, general interest, family, special and hobby magazines, 1,892 professional and trade magazines, 160 opinion magazines and cultural periodicals concerning society, culture, arts, religion, ideological issues, 165 custom publications and 1147 other magazines. The total circulation of all magazines was 13.8 million copies in 2008. (Itella, 2008; The National Library of Finland, 2009.)

86 percent of sales are based on subscriptions, and 14 percent on single copy sales. In 2005 magazines got about 62 percent of revenues from subscriptions, 30 percent from advertising and eight percent from single copy sales (Finnish Mass Media 2006). 95 percent of magazine copies are delivered to home by post.

In 2008, the single copy sales of domestic magazines stood at 21.4 million copies or 83.5 million euro, and that of foreign magazines 3.0 million copies or 18.5 million euro (Rautakirja 2009). However, the single copy sale of two tabloid newspapers is some fourfold compared with that of magazines. This confirms how strongly the sale of print media is based on subscriptions in Finland. There is no data available on the amount of subscriptions to foreign magazines.

Biggest publishers

There are four major magazine publishers: Sanoma Magazines has some 50 titles, Yhtyneet Kuvalehdet 37, A-Lehdet 16 and Aller 7 titles. The two biggest publishers, Sanoma Magazines and Yhtyneet Kuvalehdet, make over 60 percent of the magazine market.

Sanoma Magazines Finland is part of Sanoma, publishes over 40 consumer magazines and over 30 corporate magazines with a net sales of 206 million euro in 2008. It is the leading magazine publisher in Finland, with a particularly strong position in women’s and youth magazines. It is a preferred partner to many international magazine titles.

Sanoma Magazines reorganized the magazine business when it acquired the Dutch VNU’s magazine publishing business (CIG) in 2001, and grew during 2003 into wider European markets in magazines and media services. Magazine operations in Sanoma group reach in 13 countries with over 300 titles.

The company has five titles with over 100,000 circulation: Aku Ankka (Donald Duck) is Finland’s largest weekly with a circulation of 324,500 copies and over a million readers; the most popular magazine for the over-50s, ET-lehti (252, 066 copies); the country’s largest women’s magazine, Kodin Kuvalehti (181,029); the country’s largest women’s weekly, Me Naiset (136,865); and Finland’s leading health title, Hyvä Terveys (141,357). Under licence the company publishes Disney publications, Cosmopolitan (78,419), Auto Bild Suomi (48,271), GEO (19,057) and the Guinness World Records books. The company has some 20 online services around the magazines.

United Magazines Group – Yhtyneet Kuvalehdet – is part of the Otava Books and Magazines Group, publishing with a net sales of 154 million euro in 2008. Its portfolio includes 37 general interest magazines, 50 customer magazines and 20 web services connected with publishing activities. The total circulation of magazines stood at 2.2 million copies and the web sites get some 1.2 million browsers per week in 2008. The company sold 49 million copies of general interest magazines in 2007. The company has a wide archive and an agency with ten million photos and images, Finnish Press Agency – Suomen Kuvapalvelu. Since 1998 its subsidiary in Estonia publishes six periodicals as local versions tailored from the company’s domestic titles, and a subsidiary in Latvia for a magazine. The country’s only current news weekly Suomen Kuvalehti (101,989) is published by United Magazines.

The United Magazines has other six consumer magazines with a circulation of more than 100,000 copies. Its largest magazine is the biggest television programme guide, TV-Maailma (234,515), but some 95 percent of its circulation is based on free copies to the subscribers of Suomen Kuvalehti and Seura by the same company. Other titles are general interest magazine, Seura (188,223), men’s activity magazine, Tekniikan Maailma (150,231), women’s magazine, Kotiliesi (148,315), women’s weekly, Anna (113,347), and general interest magazine Hymy (100,986). 

A-Lehdet is the third largest magazine publisher with a total sales of 95 million euro in 2008. With its subsidiaries (Image and Dialogi) A-Lehdet publishes 16 titles and each of them also has a website of its own. The largest general interest magazine, Apu, has a circulation of 191,466 copies. Four titles have a circulation of more than 80,000 copies: women’s magazine Eeva (95,247), home decoration magazine Avotakka (82,351), gardening magazine ViherPiha (80,480), and car magazine Tuulilasi (80,062). The subsidiary Dialogi of A-Lehdet publishes also one of the largest customer magazines Pirkka, by a trade company, with 1.6 million printed copies, and some 30 other customer magazines.

Aller Publications has had a publishing background in Denmark since 1873 and in Finland since 1992 when it launched a Finnish version of the Danish Se og Hør calling it 7 Days. The total sales of Aller were 54 million euro in 2008. Aller has three weeklies: 7 Days is the leading Finnish entertainment and TV magazine (circ. 243,507 copies), Katso is a TV magazine (44,944 copies) and Hot NOW is an international fashion and style magazine for young women. Its four monthlies are Koti ja keittiö (Mad og Bolig), specialised in living, decorating, food and travel (62,064 copies), FIT is specialized in sports, fitness and well-being (17,702 copies), Miss Mix is for young girls aged 14-17 years (27,806 copies) and the newest is the local version of ELLE, since May 2008. Aller provides magazine-related web sites for all titles and in addition a TV programme site, Telvis.fi. The company is co-owner by 50 percent of the biggest web community Suomi24.fi.

Bonnier Publications is part of the international Bonnier group consisting of 150 companies in 20 countries. Bonnier Publications publishes nine magazines, magazine-related DVD-series, books and book series. The turnover was 18 million euro in 2008. The largest magazine Tieteen Kuvalehti (Illustrated Science) is the largest magazine on science, nature and technology in the Nordic countries, with a total circulation of 360,000 copies, and was launched in Finnish in 1986 (circ. 58,103). In all, it is published in ten countries.

Other magazines by Bonnier include Kunto Plus, on well-being and health (36,378 copies), Tieteen Kuvalehti Historia (17,209 copies), hobby magazine Tee Itse (17,329), Digikuva, for digital photography (circ. 6,191), Kotimikro, for microcomputing (13,990 copies), National Geographic Finland (15,447 copies), monthly Olivia women (circ. 41,786 copies), Evita for elderly women and Divaani (21,748), launched in 2008, a magazine for decoration, housing and lifestyle. All other magazines, but Tieteen Kuvalehti, Olivia and Divaani, are translated from publications issued in Denmark.

Egmont Kustannus is a versatile publishing house of entertainment publications. Egmont Kustannus is owned in equal parts by Danish Egmont and Sanoma Magazines Finland. Its parent company is Danish Egmont, one of the leading Nordic media companies and childrens' book publishers. The turnover of Egmont Finland in 2008 was 19.5 million euro. Product range contains comic strips, sports magazines, children books, games and hobby products. Egmont publishes annually more than 30 magazines, more than 50 separate publications, from albums to paperbacks, and more than 600 children books, games and amusement products.

Talentum publishes 16 professional magazines and periodicals, 10 in Finland and six in Sweden. The magazines with the widest circulation in Finland are business economics magazine Talouselämä (79,684), industry and technology magazine Tekniikka & Talous (103,781), IT and business weekly Tietoviikko (36,700), health care weekly Mediuutiset (27,000), and marketing magazine Markkinointi & Mainonta (10,176). Talentum publishes professional literature, for example Finnish Law series, and business books.

Forma Publishing Group publishes 15 magazines and books in Sweden, Norway,  Estonia, Lithuanian and Finland. In Finland, Forma was established in 1983. It belongs to the Swedish Forma concern owned by the stock exchange company Hakon Invest. Forma publishes since 1983 home magazine Kotivinkki (109,536 copies), home making magazine Talo & Koti (Hus och Hem, 50,644), lifestyle magazine Trendi (44, 825) and two Christmas special issues of Kotivinkki.

The small opinion journals and cultural periodicals may apply for governmental support to cover delivery or developing costs. The Ministry of Education supported cultural periodicals with 1 million euro in 2009. Most of the support (942,100) euro was granted directly to 132 papers and 57,900 euro went to libraries for the subscriptions of cultural periodicals. The delivery support was granted for three papers and the support for the making of Internet publications for fourteen papers. In addition, 21 papers were granted special support for the developing of contents, the intensification of marketing, jubilee year publications and developing of web-sites. The biggest support for a single cultural periodical stood at 37,500 euro. The number of supported papers was 149 and that of applicants 179 (Minedu.fi).

  • Public service channels and commercial radios each get half of the audience
  • The public service radio is in lead in the two oldest age group
  • In age groups from 25 to 54 share of commercial radios in metropolitan area is greater than in the whole country
  • The three biggest commercial radio companies in foreign ownership

In 2008, Finland had five national radio channels, four of them public service stations and one commercial. YLE started radio broadcasts in 1926. YLE’s radio channels broadcast in Finnish, Swedish and Sámi, also known as Lapp or Lappish. YLE serves Swedish-speaking audiences through two channels. The national channel Radio Vega broadcasts Swedish-language cultural, current affairs, news and regional programmes for all audience groups, while Radio Extrem is a Swedish-language channel broadcasting popular culture for young people in coastal areas.

YLE relays the radio satellite programmes of various foreign origin on the Capital FM channel, available in the Helsinki area. Radio Finland also broadcasts on the Internet and on the air in Finnish, Swedish, English, Russian and Latin (Nuntii Latini). Sámi Radio for Sámi speakers in Lapland, covers the Sámi areas in northern Lapland and is jointly operated with Sweden and Norway. YLE has 25 regional editorial offices for regional radio programmes, five of them also offering regional TV news for the national network.

The first licences for commercial local radio stations were issued by the government in 1985, thus breaching the de facto monopoly of public service broadcasting. May 1997 saw the start-up of the first nation-wide commercial radio station when Radio Nova went on the air. Radio Nova belongs to the MTV3 Media owned by the Swedish Bonnier Group. Thereafter, the commercial radio format, supplied by local stations or by the national channel, covered the whole country. Radio Nova is the second biggest radio channel after YLE’s Radio Finland, with an audience share of 12 percent in 2008.

In 2008, there were 10 nationwide or semi-national licences for seven separate operators and 47 local commercial radio licences for 33 separate operators. The most recent licences for commercial radio operation last until the end of 2011. There is only one factual nationwide commercial radio, Radio Nova, the other chains are semi-national or operate in chain format in several cities. Practically all radio stations are accessible via the Internet and radio companies are actively developing web radio services. Some 1.3 million people are already listening to the radio through the Internet.

Most of the nationwide chains are in foreign ownership. SBS Media (part of the ProSiebenSat1, owned by Media AG concern) has the biggest share of listening time with 12 percent, with its two national channels (Iskelmä Radio and The Voice) and four local radio channels (Radio 957 in Tampere, Radio Sata in Pori, Radio Jyväskylä and Radio Mega in Oulu). SBS Media has runs The Voice TV music-channel since 2004 and a 24-hour web-radio and web-TV Metroradio Finland (owned by Communicorp Group, Ireland). It has a share of 7 percent of listening time with three channels (SuomiPOP, GrooveFM and Metro FM). The Finnish company Nelonen Media has a share of seven percent. Owned by Sanoma Entertainment, the electronic media division of the biggest media company Sanoma, it has two radio chains, Radio Rock and Radio Aalto, plus Radio Helsinki in the capital area. The editorial office of Radio Helsinki is located at the editorial office of Helsingin Sanomat. NRJ Finland (owned by NRJ, France) has a chain (Radio Energy). Radio Satellite Finland has Sputnik radio channels for Russian-speaking population in six cities. A semi-national chain Radio Dei is a Christian radio with stations in 20 cities.

In March – May 2009, daily radio listening time shares were the following: the national public service channels – Yle Radio Suomi, 35 percent, YLE Radio 1.7 percent, YleX, 4 percent, and YLE Swedish channels, 3 percent – still slightly dominate the market by accounting for 51 percent of all listening time. At the same time the figure for private radio was 49 percent – Radio Nova, 11 percent, SBS Iskelmä radios 8 percent, Radio Rock 5 percent, SuomiPOP 5 percent, NRJ 3 percent, The Voice 3 percent. Average daily listening time for radio stood at three hours and 12 minutes in 2009 (Finnpanel.fi). All radio channels have also web-radio and website services.

The public service YLE channels account for 51 percent of total radio listening, while 49 percent of all listeners older than 9 years of age (population 4.7 million) listen to commercial radio channels. The only nationwide commercial radio, Radio Nova by Bonnier’s MTV Media accounts for 11 percent. The shares of the radio chains of total listening time are following in 2009: the Swedish SBS Broadcasting 12 percent, Nelonen Media owned by Sanoma 7 percent, and Metroradio 7 percent.

However, YLE channels have the majority only in the two older age groups. In all other age groups, commercial channels reach the majority of the listening population. In the capital area of Helsinki, Espoo, Vantaa and Kauniainen (population 1.2 million), the dominance of commercial channels is even greater. Especially in the age groups from 25 to 54 years, the share of commercial radios in the capital area is greater than in the whole country. In age groups from 9 to 44 years, YLE’s shares vary from 14 percent to 26 percent, when the shares of commercial channels vary from 74 percent to 87 percent.

Comparison with results on radio listening from previous years is here not possible, because there have been changes to universes and sampling methods at the beginning of 2009.

Public service radio

The public service company YLE broadcasts radio signals on three nationwide channels in Finnish: YLE Radio 1, Radio Suomi and YLEX, and two channels in Swedish: YLE Radio Vega and YLE Radio Extrem. YLE operates twenty regional windows in Finnish and five in Swedish in the coastal area. An interesting difference in regional broadcasts is that Swedish stations' share of music is 40 percent, while for Finnish-language stations it is 58 percent. This might indicate a greater role of radio in community interaction among the Swedish-speaking population.

Sámi Radio broadcasted programmes in Northern, Inari and Koltta Sámi for 2,000 hours in 2005. YLE makes radio programmes in Romany and weekly news bulletin in Latin – Nuntii Latini.

There are three major operators in terrestrial and cable television broadcasting: YLE (public service company), MTV Media (first commercial TV company, owned by Bonnier Media) and Nelonen Media (a part of Sanoma Entertainment) with Channel Four and Sport channel. All these operators have news releases of their own on their channels. In all, 30 news programmes per day are shown on the free-to-air channels in Finland. Three main operators account for 90 percent of the total TV viewing time. The fourth minor operator is SBS Broadcasting (by name TV5 Finland) with its Voice TV music channel. The share of domestic production on eleven main channels stood at 60 percent of the programme output in 2007 (Aslama and Lehtinen 2009). The fifth operator is the Christian broadcasting company Heaven TV7, owned by the Lighthouse Network, which started by the name TV7 in 2008.

The television programming of all these main channels is increasingly available for free on web-TVs, either live or some time after the original broadcast. In addition, almost all commercial channels offer other services such as mobile chats, online games and tele-shopping.

Five multiplexes

The Finnish digital television system consists of 12 free-to-air digital television channels and three radio channels. One digital channel (Iskelmä TV) transmits music via television (Finnish hit music 24 hours a day). The television channels are divided into five different channel packages (multiplexes). One multiplex is reserved for the public service company YLE alone, three multiplexes are divided amongst commercial television companies, and one multiplex is reserved for mobile television (DVB-H). In addition to television and radio channels the same terrestrial network serves telecommunications so it has a capacity of 20-30 channels.

The public service Finnish Broadcasting Company YLE, has four free-to-air channels: TV1, TV2, FST5 (for Swedish-speaking population) and the thematic YLE Teema channel for culture, education, science and documentaries. In addition, YLE has a licence to broadcast the digital SVT Europa channel via terrestrial network for the areas with Swedish-speaking population. There are 160,000 pay-TV customers who can have the SVT Europa channel included in their basic package without any extra charge. Separate subscriptions for SVT Europa need a pay card (with a fee of 3.50 euro per month). SVT Europa is a channel mainly consisting of the programmes offered by the Swedish television channels SVT1, SVT2, SVT24, and the Swedish language programmes aired on science and children’s channels. The SVT Europa channel broadcasts 24 hours a day. Finnish subtitles are not available.

Through digital television services (DVB) YLE provides three digital radio channels that are audible both on the digital television receiver and on the Internet, but not on an analogue radio set. YLE Classic is a 24-hour digital channel for classical music. YLE Mondo is a 24-hour world radio channel with programming in Russian, news in English, Finnish language lessons and programming in plain Finnish, a simplified form of Finnish for easier understanding by immigrants and students of Finnish.

YLE Puhe (Talk) is the only Finnish talk radio. Programming is based on all talk programmes on YLE’s radio and television channels and compiled to new entities. The channel is also receivable on the Internet and via satellite. YLE and Telenor Satellite Broadcasting AS agreed in 2009 on continuing the distribution of these three channels via YLE satellite radio channels for the next five years. The coverage area includes Nordic countries, Central Europe, coastal areas of southern Europe and the Canary Islands.

The commercial MTV Media has the full-service MTV3 channel and SubTV (entertainment, fiction, youth programmes). MTV Media has seven thematic pay-TV channels for various target groups. MTV Media is the agent of distribution, sale and marketing for the channels of C More Entertainment (previously Canal+) in Finland.

The second biggest commercial operator Nelonen Media (Channel Four) is owned by Sanoma, the second biggest media company in the Nordic countries. Nelonen Media has four channels: a full-service Nelonen (Four), the thematic Sport Channel, JIM (entertainment and documentaries, targeted on men between 22 and 44 years of age) and Liv (the first lifestyle and leisure channel in Finland, particularly appealing to women, launched in February 2009). Nelonen started in 2009 as the first company to transmit in high definition in Sanoma’s cable network Welho in Helsinki.

A new operator among the free-on-air channels will be SuomiTV (FinlandTV), owned by the Family Channel Oy, starting on 18th December 2009 as a nationwide channel with news and current affairs, children and youth programmes, as well as foreign and domestic entertainment programming.

Amongst free-to-air channels in foreign ownership are MTV3 and SubTV, pay-TV channels include MTV3 Max, Sub Junior, Sub Leffa and MTV3 Fakta by Swedish Bonnier Media. Other pay-TV channels of foreign ownership are Canal+ channels (First, Hits, Sport 1, Sport 2), Disney Channel, Discovery Channel, Eurosport, Channel 23 and Nickelodeon/Music Television MTV.

TV viewing

TV viewing time broke up according to companies in 2008: YLE 45 percent, MTV Media 31 percent, Channel Four 14 percent and others 10 percent. In audience figures, in 2008 the biggest single channel was the public service YLE TV1 of the Finnish Broadcasting Company with a share of 24.1 percent. The second biggest channel with 22.9 percent was the commercial nationwide channel MTV3, owned by the Swedish Bonnier Group, which used to rank first for a long time. The third biggest share comes to YLE TV2 with 16.8 percent.

However, looking at the prime time viewing from 18:00 to 23:00, MTV3 is clearly leading with 27 percent, followed by YLE TV1 with 22 percent, YLE TV2 with 16 percent and Channel Four with 11 percent. Commercial channels are in the lead in channel shares in the age group from 15 to 24 years: MTV3 with 24 percent, Channel Four with 18 percent, SubTV (MTV Media) with 16 percent, YLE TV2 with 9 percent and YLE TV1 with 7 percent (Finnpanel.fi, 2008.)

In addition to YLE TV1 and YLE TV2 the public service operator YLE has a Swedish-language channel, FST5, with Finnish-language subtitles in all programmes but news and current affairs, with 1.6 percent of viewing time in 2008, and YLE Teema, an archive and document channel, with 2.2 percent. YLE has nine regional broadcasting centres for the production of local news for the national network, and for a 15-minute regional news review on YLE TV 2 channel, five days a week.

The average TV viewing time was 2 hours 57 minutes in 2008. Television viewing increased in 2008 by six percent or 10 minutes compared with the previous year (Finnpanel). However, the real growth was only about one minute because the way of viewing rating has been changed.

From the beginning of 2008 both the guest viewing and time-shift viewing, in amount of nine minutes, are added to the viewing time rating. The guest viewing means that the people visiting a sample family of the study will be also registered if they watch TV during the visit. The time-shift viewing consists of the viewing of recorded programmes during a week. The effect of time-shift viewing on total viewing time in all TV households is about 4 percent. The share of the time-shift viewing of total viewing time is greater on commercial channels than in public service channels. In households with the digital video recorder (DVR) the shares of time-shift viewing are the following: SubTV 23.8 percent, Channel Four 24.1 percent, MTV3 15.8 percent, YLE TV2 11.4 percent and YLE TV1 8.0 percent. In the top of time-shift viewing genres are foreign fiction, domestic fiction, films, entertainment and children’s programmes. The shares of news, sports and actual programmes on the time-shift viewing are very small. In 2008 on an average, the number of the channels viewed daily was nine and those viewed weekly were five (Finnpanel.fi).

More Pay-TV channels

Two commercial main operators, MTV3 and Channel Four, have recently established more pay-TV channels and widened the programming of their free-on-air channels. The penetration of pay-TV has increased especially since 2006 when it rose by 14 percent. “Revenue from subscriptions to pay-TV channels has tripled in television activity since 2005” (Mass media market 2008). There were in all 609,000 pay-TV subscriptions and 914,000 or 41 percent of TV households had a digital video recorder (DVR) at the end of 2008 (Ficora.fi; Finnpanel.fi). 47 percent of the reception of television signals in households comes via cable and satellite, 44 percent is terrestrial. Some 8 percent of households have no television.

The main cable television operators are telecommunication companies like DNA, Elisa, Finnet, Teliasonera, and regional cable operators like Welho in the wider area of Helsinki. Digital terrestrial television pay-TV services are provided by Canal Digital and Plus TV. Satellite packagers are Canal Digital, Plus TV and Viasat. Internet television (IPTV) services are provided by DNA, Finnet, Maxisat and Welho. In addition there are some 20 foreign channels targeting the Finnish market (Digita Oy).

The Boxer company, a part of the largest Swedish media operator Teracom Group, acquired a majority share in the Finnish pay-TV operator PlusTV. Boxer also has pay-TV operations in Sweden and Denmark. PlusTV is one of the leading pay-TV operators in the Finnish market with about 280,000 subscribers. The existing main shareholders Baker Capital and IT Provider Funds have a minority ownership of the company (Ficora.fi).

In spite of the increased number of free-on-air digital channels, the number of pay-TV households have quadrupled during the last three years. Amongst television households, 28 percent have subscribed pay-TV channels. The viewing share of pay-TV channels is about six percent. Pay-TV is more common in families (25-44 years) with children. Two thirds of pay-TV viewing time fall to men, the most viewed pay-TV channels are MTV3 Max and Canal+ channels. Females use time-shift viewing more often than males. (TV year 2008, Finnpanel.fi).

The local television programme production has stayed at a fairly modest level in Finland. In the city of Turku the terrestrial local television Turku TV (launched 1986) operates as part of the media house TS-Group, also owning the newspaper Turun Sanomat. In addition there are two local cable networks on a pay-TV basis, in Kristiinankaupunki and in Närpiö, both programming in Swedish-language since 1982. In all there are some 50 local stations and open channels and a rather big group of them are moving to operate through web-TVs.

A digital television network is owned by Digita Oy, which is part of the international TDF group. The owners of the TDF group are Texas Pacific Group (42 percent), La Caisse des Dépôts et Consignations (24 percent), AXA Private Equity (18 percent), Charter House Capital Partners (14 percent) as well as the managers and personnel (2 percent).

The domestic film production accounts for only a relatively small proportion of all films shown at cinemas in Finland. Per capita cinema-going is at a lower level than in most other Western European countries. (Sauri 2006, 114-115). American films continue to dominate the Finnish cinema screens.

In 2007 they accounted for 54 percent while the domestic share stood at 19 percent and other European countries and internationally produced stood at 27 percent of all feature films. (Finland: Film production 2001-2007.)

In 2007, of all 163 premiers there were 14 or 9 percent Finnish feature films. The biggest cinema chains have carried out technological renovation in theatres and built new multiplexes with some 3D auditoria to rise cinema-going. The number of cinemas stood at 213 and that of auditorium halls at 316 with 52,000 seats in 2007. The number of films shown has remained by some 400 in the 2000s being at 410 in 2007. (Statistics Finland, Mass Media).

At the beginning of 2009 the Ministry of Education supported the Finnish film and audiovisual industry with extra funding due to concerns about the effects of recession (Ministry of Education 2009).

Digita is the only operator of the mobile TV network offering television, radio and data broadcasting services to service providers. Service providers may include television and radio channels, content creators, as well as pay-TV and telecom operators. The mobileTV services are available to customers from a telecom operator. Approximately 32 percent of Finns is currently covered by the mobile TV network around the metropolitan area of Helsinki, Turku, Tampere and the Oulu region. MobileTV uses the DVB-H technology in multiplex D (Mobile TV). The network provider Digita has also a @450 wireless broadband service offering ADSL-quality data communication connections (512 kbit/sor 1Mbit/s) to the whole country in the near future. (Digita Oy.)

Finland’s communications market is small and national. Conditions for network business are challenging with 17 inhabitants per sq km and area of 340,000 sq km.
Turnover for the whole ICT cluster in Finland was 63bn euro in 2006. The greatest turnover in the cluster came from electronics and devices (43bn euro), second the media (7bn euro), third for teleoperators (6bn euro) and then software producers (6bn euro).

Rapid technological changes happening in the operating environment — such as communications infrastructure becoming more Internet-based and convergence accelerating in service provision — are taken into consideration during formation of national communications policy and regulation. Auctions on frequencies have become more common; competition is tightening. The major instrument of regulation is the Communications Market Act (393/2003) with several amendments and updates.

The Ubiquitous Information Society Advisory Board is a broad negotiation forum to monitor the national information society strategy. The board has 40 members from relevant ministries, public administration, non-governmental organizations and ICT business sector. The minister of communications chairs the board. It aims to improve access to daily services, improve competitiveness and productivity, promote regional and social equality, and secure the availability and quality of public services.

According to the official statistics, at the end of 2008 there were already more than 10m telecommunications subscriptions in Finland. Fixed telephone network subscriptions rose nearly 1.7m, mobile phone subscriptions 6.9m and broadband subscriptions nearly 2.1m. (Telecommunications 2008, Statistics Finland.) Broadband access stood at 31 per 100 inhabitants; mobile broadband subscriptions have increased further. By the end of June, 2009, the number of mobile broadband subscriptions totalled almost 670,000.

Four major operators dominate Finland’s telecommunications market: the Finnet Group, Sonera, Elisa and DNA, and all marketing subscriptions under multiple trademarks or brands. By the end of June, 2009, Elisa was the market leader in broadband services with a share of 32 percent. Sonera had about 30 percent, DNA around 17 percent and the Finnet Group had 12 percent. Sonera is part of TeliaSonera, the leading telecommunications operator in the Nordic and Baltic areas.
The government’s national Broadband Action Plan is aimed to provide service of 100 megabyte per seconds to all citizens by 2015. That will improve the commercial potential of convergent services and IP-delivered content providers. According to the plan, by the end of 2015, the distance from all residences and enterprises to the nearest optical fibre or cable network with this capacity should be at most two kilometres. Prior to this goal, operators must raise the speed of the broadband connection included in the universal service package to 2 Mbit/s by the end of 2012.

Digita is the only mobile TV network offering television, radio and data broadcasting services to service providers. Service providers may include television and radio channels, content creators and pay-TV and telecom operators. Mobile TV services are available to customers from a telecom operator. Approximately 32 percent of Finns have mobile TV network access around the metropolitan area of Helsinki, Turku, Tampere and the Oulu region. Mobile TV uses the DVB-H technology in the multiplex D (Mobile TV). The network provider, Digita, has also an @450 wireless broadband service that will offer ADSL-quality data communication connections to the whole country in the near future.

According to a representative survey, reading online magazines is one of the most widespread purposes of Internet use. More than half of the whole population aged between 16 and 74 years and around 70 percent of Internet users read online magazines and newspapers. The most avid readers are young adults between the ages of 25 and 44. By contrast, subscribing to online magazines is not very common. Nearly everyone over the age of 45 reads newspapers very regularly. Young people read printed papers less than other age groups. (Changes in Internet Usage, 2008.)

The use of online banking for the payment of bills and for other banking transactions has widened in recent years. In 2008, 87 percent of Internet users and 72 percent of the whole population aged between 16 and 74 years, or around 2.8 million people, used online banking services. 80 percent of the 60-74 age group banked online.

The survey on the use of the Internet for certain purposes in 2008 shows the highest percentage shares of users for sending and receiving e-mail (90 percent of the users), finding information about goods and services (88 percent), and Internet banking (87 percent). More than half of the users are browsing travel and accommodation websites (70 percent), reading online newspapers or news magazines (69 percent), seeking health-related information (62 percent), and obtaining information from public authorities´ websites (56 percent). 38 percent read weblogs, 23 percent used browser-based news feeds (eg RSS), and five percent used the net for creating or maintaining their own weblog or blog.

Looking at changes in the use of the Internet between 2004 and 2008, three areas have widened clearly: listening to web radios or watching web television (+ 23 percent), reading online newspapers or news magazines (+ 17 percent), Internet banking (+ 16 percent) and Internet phone calls (+ 13 percent). The use has diminished during this period for playing games online (- 9 percent) and obtaining information from public authorities´ websites (- 6 percent).

Concerning the use of the Internet for other media related activities, the surveys show growth in listening to music online or downloading music (+ 9 percent from 2005 to 2008), reading weblogs (+ 13 percent from 2006 to 2008).

However, the web participation in political life is not yet very active according to a recent representative survey.  29 percent of the whole population aged between 16 and 74 had followed political development via the web. This was most common among younger, well-educated people living in the capital region or in large towns. Even among them, the share of those having done so was around 50 percent. Only about one in ten of those who follow political issues via the Internet participate to the political debate. (Changes in Internet Usage, 2008.)

In the 2000s, the Internet began to increasingly influence traditional media, including newspapers, magazines, books, cinema, radio, television and recorded media, and to shake their established position, function and interdependence. The old media plates are in a transitional period. According to official statistics, Finnish households spent an average of 150 euro in 2006 for Internet costs, against 43 euro in 2001.

Sanoma's digital operations are some 11 percent of its total sales, the same share it earns from books and learning materials. Sanoma does not have a significant presence in the English-, German- or French-speaking markets, which have been most affected by the Internet. The increasing importance of the Internet to the Sanoma company is read in financial reports. Signals of worsening economic environment are clear: Sanoma’s net sale decreased by 6.9 percent in the first quarter of 2009.

From the sales in the Internet, Ilta-Sanomat gets some 16 percent and Iltalehti 25 percent. According to an economic prediction, the Internet sales of Ilta-Sanomat should bring as much money as the sales of printed paper in the year 2014 – assumed that the volume of print media will decrease by the current annual yearly rate of five percent, and the Internet market will increase respectively by 30 percent. (Kivioja 2008, 30.)

Traditional media strong in Web

According to the weekly rankings of all Finnish websites (Gallupweb.com), among the top 20 websites, seven are owned by traditional mass media, among the top 30 websites these are nine, and among the top 50 websites, 16 are owned by mass media. The traditional media houses take the first places. Among the top ten most ranked web sites, there are six newspaper houses and four broadcasting companies or TV channels. In the top there are the three biggest commercial media companies in the country: two competing tabloid newspapers of the two biggest newspaper group, Alma Media and Sanoma News, followed by the biggest commercial television company MTV3 from Bonnier group.

The web sites of both business newspapers, Kauppalehti.fi from Alma Media and Taloussanomat.fi from Sanoma News, belong to the top ten sites, but noteworthy is that Taloussanomat ceased its print version and remained only as an Internet newspaper at the beginning of 2008. The 10th is the biggest regional newspaper Aamulehti and at the 11th place stands the first Finnish newspaper appearing only as online newspaper, Uusisuomi.fi, first published in the autumn of 2007. Digitoday.fi is an online news service on ICT sector, finance, media and business.

Almost all Finnish newspapers have an online version, only five titles of all 197 newspapers did not provide an online version in 2008. 30 percent or 59 titles amongst all newspapers had a facsimile edition. The great majority of facsimile papers are chargeable. Of all 51 dailies, issued 4-7 times a week, 32 percent, or 17 papers, did not have a facsimile version in 2008, but all of them have an online paper. Of seven-day dailies (total 31) eight titles did not have a facsimile version, of six-day dailies (total eight) four papers, of five-day dailies (total eight) three papers and of four-day dailies (total four) two papers. (The Finnish Newspapers Association, Sanomalehdet.fi.)

Finnish tabloids have risen amongst the most popular Internet sites by growing the number of weekly browsers, since broadband has become generally widespread and as a result of a development in news and entertainment contents. At the same time, the total market for printed tabloids became smaller.

The free-delivery papers by Sanoma are in digital format and serve especially younger audiences: Metrolive and online local news site Vartti.fi.

The most recent newcomers among the new media are the web-TV sites of two tabloid newspapers and television companies. The web-TV sites have brought some new possibilities to deliver popular programme formats. For example, MTV3 channel transmitted relative widely as live Jyväskylä Rally at the end of July 2009 outside the daily programme schedule.

Noteworthy is, that both tabloids, Ilta-Sanomat and Iltalehti have suffered circulation losses during the last three years, but they are on top of all websites, including chat-sites, discussion portals and other social networks.  

In a study by a market research company on media use among young people (n=506), the age group from 12 to 20 years evaluated the importance of mass media on a scale from 1 to 5 as following: Internet 4.29; television 3.84; newspapers 3.00; radio 2.96; home-delivered free papers 2.03; otherwise-delivered free papers 1.82; pick-up free papers 1.76. (Media Use of the Youth 2007.) Noteworthy is the clear leading of the Internet among this age group.

  • Internet penetration approaching that of newspapers
  • 394 Internet connections per 1,000 inhabitants
  • Five media owned websites among the top ten visited portals

The number of Internet connections was 2.1 million at the end of 2008, or 394 per 1,000 inhabitants. Amongst households, 72 percent had a fast broadband connection (May 2009). However, there are regional differences in broadband penetration. Most of the growth in broadband subscriptions is due to the growing numbers of mobile broadband subscriptions. At the end of 2008 the market shares of broadband connections were the following: Elisa 33 percent, TeliaSonera 30 percent, DNA 16 percent and Finnet Group 12 percent (Ficora.fi).

  • Practically one national news provider, owned by newspaper houses
  • Public service YLE not the customer of national news agency

The Finnish News Agency (STT) is the only news organisation in Finland that produces a real-time and comprehensive news agency service. STT (founded in 1887) is an independent, national news provider for media as well as a provider of communications services for leading companies, other organisations and government agencies.

For a long time STT has been the backbone of domestic and foreign news delivery especially for the printed press.

Towards the late 1980s and early 1990s four main political parties had their own press agency: the Centre Party had Uutiskeskus (UK), the Social Democratic Party had Working People’s News Agency (TST), the National Coalition Party had Press News Service (LSP) and the People's Democrats had Democratic Press Service (DLP). However, they withered away when the press agency subsidy of parties was finished.

The only surviving agency of this kind is UP-Uutispalvelu (UP-News Service), based on the former TST, incorporated with DLP in 1997. UP service acts as as minor agency and provides news on politics, labour market and economy to over 30 newspapers, mainly social democratic, in different parts of the country and to over 60 publications of trade unions and other organisations. UP service tries to live within the rules of the market economy offering services on the Internet too.

STT offers news in English, Finnish and Swedish. Media services include lists and calendars, news archive, anniversary interviews, youth service, broadcasting programme information and press releases. In addition to traditional media outlets, news is provided for online media and mobile phones and as alert services. The agency offers branch monitoring of specific industry sectors to companies. Photos and videos are accessible for free to a larger audience on the agency’s website.

The circle of customers include about 100 media companies including the great majority of the biggest dailies. The main customers in television are MTV3 and Nelonen. The nationwide Radio Nova and commercial radio stations are amongst the main customers too. From the beginning of 2007, the Finnish Broadcasting Company YLE discontinued the subscription of STT news service, and that reduced considerably its income.

STT is owned by 41 newspaper and media companies. The major owners are newspaper publishers Alma Media (28.2 percent), Sanoma News (23.1 percent) and TS-Group (21.0 percent). The turnover stood at 14.2 million euro with a profit of 1.1 million euro in 2008.

Almost all Finnish news media and a number of international customers subscribe to STT services. The combined circulation of newspapers that publish its news is more than 2.5 million, or 82 percent of aggregate circulation. The agency has eight regional offices in Finland as well as correspondents in Brussels, Moscow, Stockholm, Tallinn and Washington. The agency employs over 100 journalists, but there were plans to reduce staff during 2009.

The Swedish-language service of STT (FNB) got a state subsidy in an amount of 400,000 euro for year 2009, in a category aimed to support media in minority languages and web publications.

The central employers’ organisation is the Federation of the Finnish Media Industry (VKL), which makes collective agreements with the Union of Journalists in Finland. At the beginning of 2008, the Federation had 355 companies and six media associations as members. The major associations concerning press publishing, commercial radio and television are the Finnish Newspapers Association (FNA), the Finnish Periodical Publishers’ Association (FPPA, 540 magazines as members), the Federation of the Printing Industry, the Association of Finnish Broadcasters (RadioMedia), the Association of Television in Finland. Recently, the Federation has published a document “Media education policy lines of the Federation of the Finnish Media Industry: Developing of the media literacy of the children and adolescents”.

The Finnish Federation for Communications and Teleinformatics, FiCom, is a co-operation organisation for the information and communications technology industry in Finland. Some 40,000 people work in the communications and tele-informatics sector.

The main professional organisation in Finland is the Union of Journalists (14,000 members). The Union negotiates with the employers’ associations a collective agreement in the media field. The largest associations of the Union are the Finnish Association of Radio and Television Journalists (4,700) and the Finnish Association of Magazine Journalists (3,000). In 2005, the Union of Journalists adopted a renewed version of ‘Guidelines for good journalistic practice and this code of conduct is recognized by all relevant media houses. The code consists of 35 paragraphs and is the basis for the judgements of the Council for Mass Media in Finland.

In addition to professional organisations there are number of media related organisations, institutions and resource centres.

The Promotion Centre for Audiovisual Culture (AVEK, est. 1987) uses its share of copyright remuneration to promote audiovisual culture: cinema, video and television. The majority of the funds that the centre distributes come from private copying levy, eg from blank video cassettes and blank DVDs. The Centre aims at reinforcing the production structure of the Finnish audiovisual industry by promoting long-term audiovisual program production. The Centre does not fund or subsidize feature films or music videos. Feature films intended for cinema distribution are promoted by the Finnish Film Foundation (SES); music videos are promoted by the Finnish Performing Music Promotion Centre (ESEK).

The basic guidelines for national information and communication policies are documented in the government program for 2007-2011. The special focus is to promote the information society in everyday life, aiming towards a ubiquitous information society. The main organs of the government responsible for media and communications issues are the Ministry of Transport and Communications (broadcasting, newspaper subsidy, telecommunication, operation licences), with the recent focus on the promotion of new information technologies, and the Ministry of Education, with a focus on cultural policy issues of media and audiovisual media (copyright, cinema, the support of cultural periodicals).

The licensing of mobile television (DVB-H) is easier than licensing traditional digital terrestrial television operations. However, the penetration of the mobile TV network is not yet very high. The granting of programme operating licences for DVB-H is the task of the Ficora, the communication regulatory authority. No public invitations are needed for applications as with traditional television. Programme operating licences are required for radio and television channels only. Video on demand, multimedia and online services can be offered without a programme operating licence. The public service broadcaster YLE and the commercial digital terrestrial television licence holders do not need a separate programme operating licence for simulcasts on the DVB-H network. The applicants for mobile TV operations are to negotiate with the Digital company which is responsible for the television network (Finlex.fi).

In all, there are some 23 acts on communications and mass media. The legislation includes a wide range of regulations and rights, from the constitution to the communications market act (Finlex.fi).

There is no special legislation on media competition, media concentration or media ownership. The legislation on media market competition is based on the Finnish legislation on competition restrictions and on the EU directives. The Finnish competition authority monitors business deals and trade practices.

The Act on the Exercise of Freedom of Expression in Mass Media, which became effective at the start of 2004, applies to publishing and programme making. Communication via information networks is part of it and is therefore subject to legislation on mass media. The new Act amended the previous Freedom of the Press Act and Radio Broadcasting Responsibility Act. While the Act lays down a number of special requirements for regular publishing and programme making, the home pages of private individuals are subject only to the Act’s provisions on ensuring that, where necessary, responsibility is borne for any crime or damage.

The Ministry of transport and communication is responsible for matters concerning state subsidies given to newspaper publishing. The Government’s budget includes an annual allocation towards political party newspapers and for discretionary press subsidies. The discretionary subsidies are granted to newspapers published in national minority languages and to the corresponding web publications. Subsidies are also granted to Swedish-language news services. The granting of such discretionary subsidies is decided by the Government. From the beginning of 2009 the majority of the parliamentary press subsidies were removed and after that the press subsidy is a part of the general party subsidies and the party can decide quite freely by which sum it supports its newspapers.

Television programme quotas are set out in the 1998 Act on Radio and Television Activities and adhere to the stipulations of the EU Directive Television Without Frontiers. The Finnish legislation follows the Directive on European programmes on TV channels. The Finnish Act on Radio and Television Activities set a quota of 15 percent for programmes by independent producers, with a clause that these programmes must have been produced during the last five years. The law on the Finnish Broadcasting Company YLE (1380/1993, 746/1998) defines the role of the YLE as a public service radio and television company and defines the mode of its parliamentary control.

Act on Yleisradio Oy (Finnish Broadcasting Company) (1380/1993; amendments up to 635/2005 included) defines the nature of public service programming. The first clause gives YLE a wide commission: “support democracy and everyone’s opportunity to participate by providing a wide variety of information, opinions and debates as well as opportunities to interact”. The second clause is equally extensive: “to produce, create and develop Finnish culture, art and inspiring entertainment”. Other provisions concern providing programmes for educational and learning purposes, for children, as well as offering devotional programmes. YLE has to support tolerance and multiculturalism and provide programming for minority and special groups. Broadcasting must be in both official languages and offer services in Sami, Romany and sign languages. Promoting cultural interaction, supporting tolerance and multiculturalism, and providing programmes for minority and special groups belong also to YLE’s duties. In addition, YLE has to provide programmes directed abroad. In exceptional circumstances, YLE has to broadcast official announcements. The company shall not broadcast advertising in its television or radio programmes or in other content services that are provided in various telecommunications networks. Sponsored programmes are prohibited from YLE.

Basic legislation concerning broadcasting operations, as acts on radio and television, on the Finnish Broadcasting Company and on the state television and radio fund, is particularly important not only for audiences but also for behaviour on the audiovisual market. Because of the quota rules on independent productions, television is an important market place for the national feature film and independent television programme producers.

The Act on the Classification of audiovisual programmes (775/2000) provides guidelines for the classification of television programmes for the protection of children against the exhibition of pornography and violence. Violations of the act are punishable according to the Finnish penal code.

The Finnish Constitution (731/1999) defines the Swedish language as a parallel official national language, specifies Sami, Romany and Finnish sign language as minority languages; designates Sami as an indigenous culture and stipulates the rights of the Sami and other minority groups to develop their own culture.

In the concession for commercial radios, there are specifics on the daily number of news and current affairs programmes, and on the share of spoken programmes. For example, there must be at least on average 30 percent news and current affairs on weekdays in the programming of Radio Nova, for at least two hours between 06:00 and 18:00; during the same time, the share of spoken programmes must be at least on average 30 percent.

Licences for television operation in the terrestrial network are admitted by the state. Applicants are stipulated for obvious solvency. If there is enough space in the network, the regulatory authority Ficora may admit concession for short-term operation. A short-term operator is allowed to send programmes round the clock for three months or for not over eight hours a week.

The new Act on National Audiovisual Archive (2007) expands the tasks of the earlier Finnish Film Archive by including radio and television programmes in the archival material. The systematic saving of radio and TV programmes and the introduction of the databasing of programmes  will allow study use at the beginning of 2010. Soon recorded programmes will be available for consultation in the archive, in the library of the University of Helsinki, in the library of the parliament and at the University of Tampere. The new procedure for the systematic saving of audiovisual programmes opens new resources and perspectives to the research of electronic media production. This new audiovisual archive, named KAVA, is just under re-construction in the centre of Helsinki.

The Finnish communications regulatory authority (Ficora) supervises the use of radio frequencies. Customers can turn to Ficora with complaints relating to the Act on Television and Radio Operations and its decisions can be appealed to the Supreme Administrative Court.

The public service broadcasting company (YLE) operates under an act of its own. Its highest decision-making body is the administrative council, elected by parliament. Private radio and television operation are regulated by separate legislation. The Act on the Exercise of Freedom of Expression in Mass Media (2004) applies to publishing and programme making. Communication via information networks is subject to the legislation on the mass media (Finlex.fi)

The Council for Mass Media was set up by publishers, journalists and their associations to act as a self-regulatory body for mass media content and it cultivates responsible freedom in mass media. The monitoring of harmful Internet contents is currently undertaken by the council, by the Finnish Information Processing Association’s Ethics Advisory Committee, the Council on Ethics in Advertising, the Consumer Agency and the Consumer Ombudsman. (Council for Mass Media in Finland)

The main bodies responsible for enforcing communication policy are the Ministry of transport and communications and the Finnish Communications Regulatory Authority, Ficora. Ficora is an agency under the ministry as the general administrative authority for electronic communication and information society services. Ficora plans and administers the use of national and international radio frequencies, communications network numbers and network addresses. It collects television and licence fees to be used for public service programme production, grants short-term broadcasting licences, and monitors the content and advertising of television and radio programmes. Ficora publishes reviews on the development, the pricing and service level of communications markets and services (Ficora.fi). The tasks and sphere of the responsibilities of Ficora have extended due to the rapid expansion and globalisation of the Internet, mobile services and electronic commerce. The convergence of computers, telecommunications and mass media is one of the biggest changes the sector has ever faced. The digitalisation of radio and television networks enables the networks to be used even for other forms of communication than the traditional mass media.

The Government will ensure that the public service broadcasting company YLE has sufficient network capacity for terrestrial television and radio operation. The government allocates YLE a fixed number of frequencies based on a frequency plan. YLE is not permitted to broadcast advertisements. YLE’s operations are funded through the television fee. The number of television fee payers stood at 1.9 million at the end of October 2009. The fees are collected into the television and radio fund. A new television fee tariff is effective since January 2010. The television fee for 12 months is 231 euro. It can be paid in several installments (Finnish Communications Regulatory Authority/Television Fees).

The Ministry is responsible for the legislation on communications networks, issues of privacy protection and data security, promoting access to communications services, the policy on frequencies and the legislation on radio and TV broadcasting. The minister of communications represents Finland in the EU Council of telecommunications ministers.

Television broadcasting in a terrestrial media network requires in Finland an operating licence (programming licence) from the government. The Finnish Broadcasting Company YLE is not required to obtain an operating licence for television broadcasting in frequencies that have been allocated to it by the government in its frequency plan. The television network is the responsibility of Digita. Operating licences are granted by the government for local and regional radio services and for special radio broadcasting purposes. A special radio may operate across a broader area than regional radios and this area is defined separately in the operating licence.

The Ministry is responsible for matters concerning state subsidies given to newspaper publishing. The government’s budget includes an annual allocation towards political party newspapers and for discretionary press subsidies. The discretionary subsidies are granted to newspapers published in national minority languages and for the corresponding web publications. Subsidies are also granted to the Swedish-language news services of the Finnish News Agency. The granting of such discretionary subsidies is decided by the Government.

Self-regulation of the media

The responsibility for supervising media content rests with the mass media itself in Finland. Self-regulation works on the voluntary bases via the cooperation of business actors in the sector. Supervision of self-regulation is carried out by the sector itself based on the various contracts and guidelines of those involved. The authorities only intervene in criminal cases.

The Council for Mass Media in Finland has been set up by publishers and journalists to act as a self-regulatory body for mass media content. The council is established in 1968 by publishers and journalists in the field of mass communication. The last effective version of journalistic guidelines are from January 2005. The council interprets good professional practice but does not exercise legal jurisdiction. Decisions are based on journalistic guidelines, which cover all journalistic work in the press, television and radio and on the internet, giving equal treatment to each of these media.

Any person who considers that there has been a breach of good professional practice by media may bring this to the attention of the council. Seven members represent areas of expertise in the field of media, and three represent the public. Representatives of the public are elected by the council itself.

National regulations relevant to communications, media and media pluralism in Finland:

  • Act on the Exercise of Freedom of Expression in the Mass Media (Act 460/2003)
  • Act on Television and Radio Operations (Act 744/1998 as last amended by Act 1068/2007)
  • Government Decree on Television and Radio Operations (Act 2003/698)
  • Act on the State Television and Radio Fund (Act 745/1998 as last amended by Act 1069/2007)
  • Act on Yleisradio Ab (Act 1380/1993 as last amended by Act 635/2005)
  • Communications Market Act (Act 393/2003 as last amended by 119/2008)
  • Act on Communications Administration (Act 625/2001 as last amended by Act 520/2004)
  • Decree on Communications Administration (Decree 697/2001 as last amended by Decree 709/2002)
  • Act on the Promotion of Film Art (Act 28/2000 as last amended by Act 68/2002)
  • Press Subsidy Ordinance (Decree 1481/2001 as last amended by Decree 224/2005)
  • The Finnish Constitution (Act 731/1999 as last amended by Act 802/2007)
  • Act on the Openness of Government Activities (Act 621/1999 as last amended by Act 713/2007).
  • Act on Political Parties (Act 10/1969 as last amended by Act 653/1992)
  • Act on the Competition Council (Act 481/1992 as last amended by Act 962/2000)
  • Act on the Finnish Competition Authority (Act 711/1988 as last amended by Act 623/1999)
  • Act on the Library for the Visually Impaired (Act 638/1996 as last amended by Act 1053/2001)
  • Act on the Monitoring of Foreigners' Corporate Acquisitions in Finland (Act 1612/1992 as last amended by Act 623/1999)
  • Act on the Public Disclosure and Confidentiality of Tax Information ((Act 1346/1999 as last amended by Act 1108/2006)
  • Administrative Procedure Act (Act 434/2003)
  • Value Added Tax Act (Act 1501/1993 a last amended by Act 1312/2007
  • Guidelines for Journalists, 1.1.2005
  • The Finnish Film Foundation Support Guidelines, 1.1.2008
  • Charter of the Council for Mass Media (the ‘Basic Agreement’), 19.2.1998
  • YLE Policy on services for minorities and special groups (2005)

The Finnish Newspapers Association, and newspapers published in different parts of Finland, provide support for teachers on the use of newspapers in education.

Schools use newspapers as teaching material or as a teaching tool. The Association has also published source material for teachers. These are provided free of charge and can be obtained from the education staff of the concerned newspaper publishers. Many newspapers send schools newspapers free of charge for use in teaching. The newspaper day and the newspaper week, a special week of cooperation between newspapers and schools, was arranged for the first time in 1994, on the initiative of the Finnish Newspapers Association. (Newspapers in Education).

The National Audiovisual Archive (KAVA) organises the national administration of archiving film, radio and television programmes. The Act on National Audiovisual Archive (1434/ 2007) expanded the tasks of the earlier Finnish Film Archive by including radio and television programmes in the archival material.

A new reference database on Magazine Journalism Studies with main focus on Finnish research has been launched by the Media Factory at the Aalto University in Helsinki (Magazine Journalism Studies). The majority of the references are dissertations from Finnish universities and polytechnics.

The main sources on the Finnish mass media scene are provided biennially since 1987 under the title Finnish Mass Media in the series Culture and the Media by Statistics Finland. This statistical report on Finnish mass media has chapters on mass media economy and consumption, television, radio, phonographs, video, films, books and libraries, newspapers, magazines and the Internet. There is also a separate chapter with comparative data from other regions and countries. Four editions of these with statistical tables and articles on various media sectors are published in English. The 11th print edition was published in December 2009. A selection of the tables on mass media with titles in English and Swedish is accessible online at Statistics Finland.

The print media (newspapers, magazines, books) still hold a strong position, and the market share of the biggest media houses has slightly grown in Finland. The newspaper markets are nearly saturated and new market niches are hard to find. The share of printed media of the total mass media market volume declined by two percent in 2008.

The trend towards newspaper chains has stabilized. It is highly probable that new acquisitions and mergers among the newspaper companies will happen. In 2008, eleven titles of all 51 dailies issued 4-7 times a week appear outside chain ownership. The free delivery newspaper market has stabilized due to the declining advertising expenditures since autumn 2008.

High readership for printed media continues in Finland, but not at the previous rate especially among the younger generations. At the same time, the newspapers have more readers than ever, although the total circulation has declined because online versions on the Internet have increased and broadened their readership.

The figures for subscribing to a newspaper and having it delivered early in the morning to home are very high. However, the trend not to subscribe to a newspaper is slightly increasing in the households. In consequence, a part of middle-aged citizens have diverged from newspapers and a new generation grows learning from their parents that it is not worth to subscribe to a newspaper. The number of media outlets has especially increased in radio channels, TV channels and in the area of new digital online media. In three years, the number of pay-TV subscriptions has more than quadrupled. The audience share of the biggest four TV channels has decreased, being however 77 percent of viewing time.

The share of the electronic media on the total mass media market volume grew by two percent in 2008. The share of the electronic media market (television, radio, Internet) increased by two percent in 2008, but is still behind European average. Finland switched over entirely to digital terrestrial television on 29 February 2008 when all analogue transmissions in cable networks were closed. After that the number of channels has increased and audience has divided more evenly between traditional TV channels and new ones. The competition for audiences in TV market has strengthened.

A new phenomenon has been a strong growth of the pay-TV market in three years since 2006. The increasing segmentation of the media audience is one aspect of the intensified commercialisation of the media market. The biggest commercial radio companies are in foreign ownership. The biggest commercial TV channel, MTV3, and the only nationwide commercial radio station, Radio Nova, belong to the Swedish Bonnier company. The great majority of commercial radio stations belong to foreign media companies, as SBS Media and Metroradio.

The Internet economy has grown rapidly, by 33 percent in 2006 and by 34 percent in 2008, measured by advertising in Internet, advertising in the electronic search pages and sales of online products or services by publishers. The Internet penetration per 1,000 inhabitants approaches that of newspapers. The general rapid development of the Internet is probably reinforced by the strong reading tradition in Finland. The traditional media houses hold a strong position in the Internet market. Among the top 10 visited list of websites there are five media-owned websites.

The biggest media company in the country, Sanoma, has grown to become a European media operator and has expanded its operations into Eastern and Central Europe and Russia. Sanoma is the second biggest media corporation in the Nordic countries; it earned 49 percent of the turnover from Finland, 46 percent from other EU countries and five percent from other countries in 2008. Of the total net sales, 52 percent came from outside Finland in 2008, while the same share stood at eight percent in 1999. According to Sanoma’s annual report, magazine publishing accounted for the most of Sanoma’s net sales by 37 percent while newspapers accounted for 14 percent in 2008.

Major newspaper companies are still mostly in national ownership. The share of foreign ownership has risen in Finnish electronic media when the Swedish Bonnier Group acquired the biggest private television (MTV3) and nationwide radio operation (Radio Nova) from the Alma Media in 2005.

The recent growth rates for electronic media, including the Internet, are greater than those for print media. The print media will continue to dominate the Finnish mass media economy but their share of total volume will decrease. Thanks to their online versions, Finnish newspapers have more readers than ever. The share of those readers who read only the Web publications of newspapers has grown and typically among the younger readers. The slightly decreasing figures of subscriptions and rising total costs drive newspapers to further develop their Internet version and with them connected services. The electronic versions of newspapers and web publications are creating new opportunities for local public and citizens’ community journalism at least as sources of information and ideas for stories to the editorial staffs.

The biggest media change is the Internet, which shakes the traditional media plates. In ten years, a majority of citizens began to utilize this new medium both for social communication and personal businesses. The use of the Internet has broadened to all areas of communication and begun to erode the time spent by users on traditional media. However, the business model for Internet-based media is underdeveloped.

Jyrki Jyrkiäinen
Professor, Dr.Soc. Sc., Senior Lecturer
University of Tampere
Department of Journalism and Mass Communication
FIN-33014 University of Tampere, Finland
Tel: +358-50-541 6396
Email: Jyrki.Jyrkiainen@uta.fi
Website