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Police Board: Radio cash appeal impossible in Finland

Radio Helsinki’s plan to ask listeners to pay a monthly subscription may be impossible to realise under Finnish law. The station would need a license to collect money, but as a private, profit-making company it cannot receive one.

Radio Helsingin nettisivu
Image: Radio Helsinki

When Sanoma announced it wanted to sell off the loss-making Radio Helsinki last year, a wide-ranging campaign sprang up to save the alternative station.

Global stars spoke up in support of the free-form station, helping listeners advocate on social media and eventually enabling a group of former Sanoma employees and investors to take over the brand.

Listener support, in the form of a monthly payment from supportive listeners, was a part of the business plan. But National Police Board representative Jouni Laiho told Yle’s Radio Suomi that such a plan is not possible.

"Today, on Thursday, we took the position that the concept Radio Helsinki is planning is not possible," said Laiho. "Radio Helsinki cannot start a campaign where they would ask the audience for payments."

At issue is Finland’s legal framework around collections. Non-profits can ask for donations, so long as they have a license. Companies, on the other hand, are not allowed to ask for cash contributions under any circumstances.

An individual can donate at their own volition, but asking for that donation is illegal. Despite the contradiction, and Radio Helsinki’s announcement that it would request donations from Friday, Laiho did not take a stand on whether the station had broken the law.

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