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80 years and 200 euros
by Asa Butcher
2006-09-10 14:04:14
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Thursday 9th September, 1926, was the first radio broadcast by Finland's public service Finnish Broadcasting Company YLE and now it is celebrating eighty years later with a day full of special programming…well, at least it is special according to the YLE News in English.

I barely watch anything on Finnish television, preferring to get all my global news from a variety of websites and watching a DVD when I get sofa time, so I had to check the TV guide to see exactly what special programming was saved for the evening in question. I was expecting a feast of delights to mark the eightieth year and a decent proportion of the television licence to be invested in the broadcast festivities, but I was wrong.

YLE1 began the evening with a British crime series, followed by News and Weather, plus the weekly Lotto draw. Sports results came just before 9pm, with Itse Valtiaat, a political animation show, followed by the Finnish version of Have I Got News for You. The evening was rounded off by Frasier, Rudy Giuliani's story and Euronews. YLE2 had a charity music show for children, a German detective series, news, sport and weather, a Finnish baseball match and one of their special YLE 80 Live programmes was Robbie Williams live in Leeds.

German, British, American and charity made up the bulk of the night's programming, which again makes me wonder whether the bulk of the licence fee is spent on adding subtitles to imported series. We are forced to pay this television tax, so this public-broadcasting organization can be free from commercial or political bias or influence, when that really isn't true, is it.

Nothing is free from bias and you are naïve to believe so. Every decision the news editor makes on determining what is newsworthy that day is made with bias, whether it is political, personal or professional, it is still a bias.

We don't need a television company owned by the Finnish or any state; any justification of the state-owned channels is laughable when you look at the terrestrial commercial channels, such as MTV3 or Channel Four in the UK. They offer the same content, the same news, the same weather, the same imported American and British series, but they pay for it all themselves via advertising.

Every year the licence fee increases, it never stays the same or even drops, why? The revenue from the tax is invested in more imported shows, quality-furnished studios for the news and more radio stations. In fact, why does money from the TV licence go toward radio? How is this fair to the commercial stations that have to compete to survive?

This is not only a Finnish issue for me because I felt the same way about the BBC licence fee back in the UK. YLE is similar to the BBC in many ways, not just the fact it uses the same programmes, but it also invests in radio and claims to be unbiased and uninfluenced by external devices, yet there are many people who would and do strongly disagree.

The YLE News site stated that last year 98 percent of the population listened to or watched YLE radio and TV programming for at least two hours a week, but how many did the same with the other channels? YLE also used the 80th anniversary celebrations to launch an online service providing hundreds of hours of archived television, radio and music programming from the past 100 years, which I am sure Finland's TV owners will be paying for over the next few years.

I think it is about time for the TV licence to be revoked and for the government to be open about the whole thing by adding a new tax to the television at purchase, which may not be fair but at least it will be honest.

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Thanos2006-09-09 23:53:31
I think YLE has a lot of good documentaries even though I agree that some of the TV series they play are very old, good though but …old, even for the Finns who have seen them before. What I don’t like is that there are some really bad productions from so called ‘directors’ in the name of the multicultural society. Poor and sad is not enough to describe them and it makes me angry that they get money from me to do them!!!

David2006-09-10 13:13:10
Why pay tv licence for a national station you don't like?

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