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Finland – (E4) Minority / Alternative media

Score in short:

The supply of media in Swedish and Sámi languages is extensive in relation to the size of the population in Finland, but other minority and alternative media are limited.

Score in detail:

Compared to most other European countries, Finland remains ethnically homogenous. Although immigration to Finland has increased, the proportion of the foreign-born population (2.5 %) is much below the EU average (Eurostat 2009). In addition to the official languages Finnish (91 %) and Swedish (5 %), the constitution specifically mentions Sámi, Romani and users of Finnish sign language (alongside a vague reference to “other groups”) as minorities with a right to “maintain and develop their own language and culture”.

With its own established media institutions, it can be stated that the Swedishlanguage media in Finland constitutes an institutionally complete media system (Moring & Husband 2007). This includes 11 daily regional and local newspapers, one nationwide public service television channel (FST5), two public service radio channels (Radio Vega, X3M), and a number of periodicals.7

The public broadcaster YLE is obliged to provide services also in Sámi, Romani and sign language, and when applicable, in other languages used in Finland. The supply of products in the Sámi language include television news broadcasts (Oddasat), a regional radio channel (YLE Sámi Radio) and an online news portal. YLE also has a 24-hour digital radio station (YLE Mondo), whichbroadcasts news in eight different languages. There are also online news portals in English and Russian.

The Ministry of Education allocates some public subsidies to minority and alternative media. Some 500,000 euro is annually allocated to minority language newspapers and magazines. These include Swedish-language newspapers and some periodical publications in Sámi and Romani languages. In Russian, there is a monthly paper (Spektr) and a private radio channel (Radio Sputnik) that is available in Southern Finland. In addition, there is an English-language weekly newspaper, Helsinki Times, and a free monthly magazine, SixDegrees, aimed at the immigrant population.

Overall, while media services for recognized “old minorities” in Finland are relatively extensive, few media services are available for immigrants in Finland. The representation of ethnic minorities also remains marginal in the workforce of mainstream media houses. Some new initiatives have been recently launched by immigrant groups to fill the gap (see UJF 2010). Panorama Television and Monivisio provide news and current affairs programs to immigrants in various languages online and in public access radio with EU and Ngo funding.

The Ministry of Education also allocates subsidies to cultural and opinion journals, which “maintain public discussion about culture, science, art or religious life”. In 2010, some 1 million euro was allocated to 133 journals (Ministry of Education and Culture 2010). Non-profit actors have a presence in print media and magazines, but in television and radio alternative media outlets are few and they receive little public support. Some public access and community radio stations exist locally (see above), but in television, the increasingly competitive marketplace has left little room for experimental initiatives. Alternative media outlets of civil society organizations and other non-profit actors are thus increasingly confined to the Internet.