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Finland – (F1) Geographic distribution of news media availability

Score in short:

The mainstream news media are accessible throughout the country and there are no major regional divides.

Score in detail:

Newspapers, broadcasting and online services are widely available nationwide. The reach of newspapers, in particular, is internationally high. It is estimated that some 90 % of all newspapers sales are based on subscriptions and home delivery. Early morning delivery is available to around 90 % percent of the households (Finnish Newspapers Association 2010). In 2008, a total of 201 newspapers were published in Finland, 53 of those being dailies.

All daily newspapers had an online edition in 2008, while around 75 % of all other newspapers (i.e., mainly local and regional papers) were present online (Finnish Mass Media 2010, p. 175). Thus far, the online editions have had most of their content available for free. Daily free papers are mainly distributed in the larger cities.

The switchover to digital broadcasting initially raised some concerns about equal availability of the services in all areas of the country. In 2008, the technical reach of the digital television network was already at 99.96 % of the population. The digitalization has also increased the supply of free television channels in terrestrial households to 11 channels, compared to just four basic channels carried in the old analogue terrestrial networks. The penetration of digital television equipment in 2008 was 90 %. Around one half (48 %) of the households had cable television and only 6 % had satellite television. one-quarter of all households subscribed to pay channels, a significant growth from some 5 % in the early 2000s (Finnish Mass Media 2010, p. 50-56).

In 2008, there were 54 private radio channels in Finland, one of which had nationwide coverage and nine of which were near-national. Major cities typically have ten or more local commercial channels available, whereas national and regional public radio channels are available all over the country, in line with the legal obligation of the YLE to provide services for all citizens on equal terms. on average, depending on the area of residence, there are around 15-20 radio channels available to the public in a given location (Kemppainen 2007).

Radio and television contents are also increasingly available online. The most extensive and wide-ranging online television and radio service, YLE Areena, makes public service radio and television programs produced by YLE available online. The main commercial broadcasters have their own respective online services, which include both free and premium content.

Until recently, broadband connections have not been easily available in some of the more remote areas of the country, but since 2010, the provision of broadband access has been included in the universal service obligations for telecom operators. The penetration of Internet access in 2008 was around 76 % (Finnish Mass Media 2010, p. 50). The operators defined as universal service providers (26 operators) must provide every residence and business with access to a reasonably priced and high-quality connection (at least 1 Mbit/s). The aim of the broadband project is also to provide all households with the permanent fibre-optic or cable network (100 Mbit/s) by the end of 2015, in part with public support (Ministry of Transport and Communications 2010).