Background was necessary in the early 80s
is a democracy in the western sense of the word"
"Northern Report" covered Finland
and the North for an international audience.
Read about the ins and outs of covering
Finland for western audiences during the last two decades of the
Northern Report, also known later as Compass North,
entered the international airwaves in a situation where
Stockholm had been the place for covering the North for the world,
also in international broadcasting.
Audience reactions to
closing in 2002
was missed the most
October 2002 YLE Radio Finland broadcasts in
English, German and French were closed. Domestic news in
English and the Russian service continued.
was not much of a response to the closing internationally,
except for the German service and the YLE
presence on CBC Overnight in Canada. CBC Radio One had
been relaying YLE in its night format since 1996 and a half
hour of English from Finland had become a
regular part of the night schedule.
that audience response to the closing of the German service
would stand out was no surprise.
The language service had been the best part of Radio Finland,
in terms of audience relations.
Press Section of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs had
made an attempt to influence the decisions of YLE. With no
impact though. The services had been financed
totally by YLE on the basis of its licence fee recenue. The
Ministry had no official role in the service.
YLE resumed English language broadcasts in 1967, limited
government funding had been made available to YLE and the
sums had been paid annually. But in the early 70s YLE had not filed
applications any longer and the budget item was withdrawn.
Theoretically, if the small public funding had survived until the early
2000s, a decision to close down foreign language external
radio perhaps would not have been that easy.
Radio Finland on
the international broadcaster scene
International broadcasting was a sector where your closest
colleagues could be in another country.
were "alliances" of stations on the international broadcast scene formed on somewhat political
lines. Thus, Voice of America, the BBC
and Deutsche Welle were co-operating
as the big three. Then there was “Group
of Six” including Radio Nederland,
Radio Sweden, Swiss Radio International, Radio
Australia, Radio Japan and Radio Canada
not in any grouping. Admittedly, there
were Nordic SW
meetings, but they did not constitute
more than a framework for Sweden establishing
was biggest, until the fast expansion
of Radio Finland in the 1980s. There was
"no group of Nordics" in international broadcasting. Of
the five Nordics, only Finland and Sweden
maintained daily broadcasts in foreign languages.
The relationship between Radio Finland and Radio
Sweden became increasingly competitive as the Nordic political
seen somewhat differently from Stockholm and
the large broadcasting unions such as EBU, international broadcasting
(or external) did not have much presence for decades, except
on the technical side. It was not until the late 70s
that initiatives were taken to change the situation. The
idea was to establish a forum within the EBU to share
and solve problems that external broadcasters had in common.
The plan – originally from the Director
General of Radio Nederland, Joop Acda - got intense support
from the Director General of Radio Vaticana
S.J. Juhani Niinistö of Radio Finland was very keen on getting
something launched, as Radio Finland was outside all the existing
creation of a space for international radio
within the EBU was debated in three meetings of
the EBU Programme Committee, in Istanbul 1980,
Athens 1980 and Lisbon in 1981. Juhani Niinistö attended
all three - and was able to promote
the idea even though the YLE corporate level
had reservations as such involvement in such a grouping
could entail political risks, with a view to the neutral
position Finland pursued. Yle actually
voted blank in the final vote about the plans to
create an international broadcasting plenary meeting, but Yle
Board Members explained at the same time that Finland would
participate in the upcoming meetings.
After approval of the plan in Lisbon, the first
preparatory meeting took place in Geneva in June 1982. Plenary
meetings continued then to be arranged then at roughly 18 month
intervals. In the late 80s YLE became a member in the “small
group” or "steering group" that met more often and discussed upcoming issues. The
group often met in Vatican City.
YLE was a member in both the Soviet bloc
broadcasting union OIRT and the Western union
EBU. OIRT was actually the original European
broadcast union. At the start of the Cold War the West had pulled out of OIRT, but YLE had
though YLE was active in many OIRT
working groups, the OIRT external
broadcasting working group never invited YLE
Radio Finland. There was one invitation inthe early 80s,
actually, a telex in Russian, but a
cancellation came the next day in German. Had
YLE Radio Finland been obliged to participate in OIRT
working groups and air OIRT campaigns, it would have risked its credibility.
YLE representatives at the EBU
Programme Committee meeting in Lisbon that took the
final decision to accept the establishment of an
international broadcasting forum in the EBU. From the
right Paul v Martens, Programme Director of Swedish
language YLE radio, Liisi Lahtonen, a specialist in International
Relations, Jouni Mykkänen, Director of YLE Radio 1,
Keijo Savolainen, Programme Director of YLE Radio 2, Juhani
Niinistö, Head of YLE International Radio. On
the left there is Joe Gwathmey from the US
National Public Radio.
"Zero cents per
"Listen to radio from
Finland at the rate of zero cent per minute..."
the mid90s onwards, YLE used the language of the contemporary
advertising of mobile media in its promotion of world
band radio - as seen here in an ad prepared for the
annual Travel Fair in Helsinki in 2001. The campaign
positioned the easy and cheap world band radio against the costly
use of mobile phones outside the home country. The
target group were Finnish tourists abroad.
campaign was fairly succesful and sales of world band
radios increased in Finland. Tourists soon
rediscovered world band radio as a way to avoid the
invoices that had been awaiting them on arrival from recent trips at
home. Marketing was eased through the all-day
availability of Radio Finland in Western Europe: 11755
and 6120 kHz gave an almost complete coverage from Germany to the
Canaries from morning till late night. When 11755 faded, 6120
opened. The Finnish service of Radio
Finland for Western and Southwestern Europe was not a
typical block broadcast of a limited duration, but an all
day service, like domestic radio. Live sports - such
as ice hockey - was part of the service.
The slogan was
phased out in 2003 as it had been established within the company to give "conflicting
decision must be understood against the backdrop of the increased
interest of YLE at the time in the mobile handset media.
The slogans lived on some more years though as part
of a compaign by expatriate organizations to bloc
plans to discontinue world band radio from Finland.
The efforts to even slow down the plans of YLE were
futile, and YLE went ahead and closed down SW and phased
out specialized journalistic services for Finns
Audience service in target areas
Radio Finland appears to have been the first
international broadcaster to open an 800-line (toll free) in the US,
and later in Canada. Done in the very early 80s
the move had an expensive look, though the
cost actually was not that high. The
calls never reached Finland, but an answering system
at the office of John Berky, the YLE Radio
Finland audience and distribution representative in
mid 80s, Radio Finland started arranging audience
events in target areas and participating in expatriate
festivals. The first such visibility was arranged by the German
service in 1986.
rose and fell the quickest"
A German media student wrote
in 2009 a thesis about YLE Radio Finland, Radio
Sweden and the Swiss International Service in comparison.