Background was necessary
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 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.
"Zero cents per
"Listen to radio from
Finland at the rate of zero cent per minute..."
YLE used the language of contemporary advertising
media in its promotion of world band radio in the late
90s and early 00s, as seen here in an ad prepared for the
annual Travel Fair in Helsinki in 2001.
The campaign was fairly succesful and sales
of world band radios increased in Finland.
Tourists rediscovered the world band radio as a
reaction to 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
The slogan was
phased out in 2003 as it had been found within the company to give "conflicting
The decision must be understood against the backdrop of
the increased interest of YLE at the time in the mobile handset
media. The phrase lived on some more years though
as part of a compaign by expatriate organizations to bloc
plans to discontinue world band radio from Finland.
Radio Finland appears to have been the first European
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
Radio Finland audience events were arranged by the
rose and fell the quickest"
A German media student wrote
in 2009 a
compelling thesis about YLE Radio Finland, Radio
Sweden and the Swiss International Service in comparison.
Radio Finland on
the international broadcaster scene
International broadcasting is a sector where your closest
colleagues may be in another country. Often there are that
many political barriers between countries that contacts
with at least some of the colleagues are occasional or do not
exist at all.
were groups of stations formed somewhat on political lines.
Thus, Voice of America, the BBC and Deutsche Welle were
co-operating as a group. Then there was “Group of Six” (also
at a time seven) including Radio Nederland, Radio Sweden,
Swiss Radio International, Radio Australia, Radio Japan and Radio
Canada International. Radio Finland was not in any grouping.
There were Nordic SW meetings but they did not constitute
much more than a framework for Sweden showing it was biggest,
until the fast expansion of Radio Finland, of course.
the large broadcasting unions 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.
Juhani Niinistö of Radio Finland was very keen on getting
something created, as Radio Finland was outside all the
groupings. The initiative – originally from the Director
General of Radio Nederland Joop Acda, with intense support
from the Director General of Radio Vaticana
The 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 allowed to
promote the idea even though YLE had reservations as such a
grouping could entail political risks, with a view to the neutral
position Finland pursued.
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, but had been taken over by the Soviet bloc
countries. The West had generally pulled out of OIRT, but YLE had
Even though YLE was active in many OIRT working
groups, the OIRT international 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 participated in OIRT working groups, it could not
have implemented many OIRT campaigns, except through
risking its credibility.
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” that met more often and discussed upcoming issues. The
group often met in the Vatican.
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.
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.
There were some questions in parliament about the move. Among
them, conservative member of parliament Mr Pertti Hemmilä submitted in
November 2006 a question in parliament about the plans
of the Finnish Broadcasting Company (YLE) to end its availability on
international SW bands. In his question MP Hemmilä took up the low cost
of the world band radio to the consumer traveling or living
abroad. In her response the then minister for communication and
transport, Mrs Susanna Huovinen (sdp) noted that YLE would
now be available via other means such as satellites and internet. She
also underlined the fact that YLE is not under government control, but
under direct parliamentary supervision.