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European Broadcasting Union urges Yle to boost diversity

In a report published this week, the umbrella organisation of European broadcasters calls on Yle to better represent all segments of society, including immigrants.

Ylen uutisten työntekijät odottavat palohälytyksen loppumista Radiotalon aulassa.
Yle employees await the all-clear sign after a fire alarm. Image: Tiina Jutila / YLE

A peer-to-peer review issued on 28 May by the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) urges Finnish public broadcaster Yle to better “reflect the diversity of Finnish society, and the changes it is going through.”

The 70-page report evaluates Yle’s management practices and content according to public service values defined by the EBU three years ago. The paper is based on a self-assessment carried out by Yle and a visit to Helsinki by an international group of peers in January. The team included six broadcasting executives, consultants and specialists from Austria, Belgium, France, Ireland and the Netherlands.

In their view, “Yle programmes/content should better reflect Finnish society in all its developments and diversity. Minorities such as the immigrant populations are not really represented. Yle should work on diversity and adopt a segmented vision of its audiences to better understand their needs and expectations.”

Yle, which the paper defines as a “national free-to-air public media service company,” currently offers news in Finnish, Swedish, Sámi, Karelian, English, Russian and Finnish Sign Language, as well as short weekly programmes in the Finnish Roma language and classical Latin.  

Equality plan falls short

While praising Yle for “doing a good job” on gender equality and opportunities, the report’s authors say the company’s “next challenge is to diversify its staff according to age, origin, and culture to reflect changes in Finnish society over the last decade yet without losing in internal cohesion.”

They note that Yle failed to achieve the goals of its 2012-14 Equality Plan, which was aimed at turning the company into a more diverse workplace. “The company remains very homogenous in terms of age, ethnic and cultural backgrounds,” they observe.

With some 75 members in 56 countries, the EBU is best known as organiser of the Eurovision Song Contest.

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