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Yle celebrates 95 years of public service broadcasting

Yle's first radio transmission was broadcast from a studio in downtown Helsinki on 9 September 1926.

Kuvassa liehuu Suomen lippu, taustalla näkyy Pasilan linkkitorni.
Yle provides three national television channels, 13 radio channels and services, and 25 regional radio stations. Image: Silja Viitala / Yle

The Finnish Broadcasting Company Yle (Finnish: Yleisradio) marks 95 years of broadcasting on Thursday.

"Yle is a sprightly 95 years old and in good condition," CEO Merja Ylä-Anttila said.

The first ever radio transmission was broadcast from a studio on Unioninkatu in downtown Helsinki on 9 September 1926, when opera singer and journalist Alexis af Enehjelm told the nation that regular broadcasting activities in Finland had begun.

The public service broadcaster now provides three national television channels, 13 radio channels and services, and 25 regional radio stations, and was recently named Finland's 'Brand of the Year' for 2021.

"We are very grateful that our audience appreciates us, and we are ready to listen to what the audience wants and expects from us," Ylä-Anttila added.

Looking to the future

As Yle marks its 95th 'birthday', Ylä-Anttila said the company is looking to the future and wants to develop content to better meet the needs and interests of people living in Finland.

"In my opinion, the duty of a public service broadcaster is to get closer to, listen to and interact with the public," she said, adding that Yle especially wants to hear more and more from younger people.

Story continues after the photo.

Merja Ylä-Anttila
Yle CEO Merja Ylä-Anttila. Image: Antti Haanpää / Yle
"Our challenge is to look after the needs of young people who use media in a new way. It is important that we are a relevant communication channel for them, a source of education and entertainment," Ylä-Anttila said, citing the success of the award-winning series Sekasin as an example of how Yle has managed to attract new audiences that are traditionally difficult to reach.

Aside from serving children and young people into the future, Yle will also focus on the development of digital platforms including the streaming platform Yle Areena, Ylä-Anttila added, as the broadcaster seeks to build on the 95-year-strong bond with audiences in Finland.

"We want to nurture this relationship and renew our offering so that even our loyal, slightly older audiences can find inspiring and interesting content on Yle," Ylä-Anttila said.

Yle is not "shouting for more money"

Since 2013 Yle has been funded by a public broadcasting tax, which replaced the previous licence fee model and is collected from private individuals and corporations on an annual basis.

The company's turnover in 2020 was 487 million euros. Ylä-Anttila said she is following the discussion about Yle's financing closely, but did not wish to speculate on whether Yle's financing will be increased by the next government.

"We make sure we live as sharply and smartly as possible. We are not shouting for more money," she said, adding that public finances are tight even as costs are rising and competition is fierce within the media sector, citing media rights for sports competitions as just one example.

Story continues after the photo.

Mira Ahola puhuu kameralle Ylen tiloissa.
Yle's investigative journalism unit MOT filming an interview in Pasila earlier this year. Image: Silja Viitala / Yle
Yle has a responsibility to provide television and radio channels to everyone on equal terms, Ylä-Anttila added, which increases the pressure.

"We need to think about how we prioritise and how we use resources," the CEO said.

History of Yle's English-language broadcasts

Yle also provides news in English, via the Yle News unit. The company’s first English-language radio news aired during World War II.

English-language broadcasts continue to the present day, with bulletins at 3:30pm on Yle Mondo and at 3:55pm on Yle Radio 1.

Yle News was established in 1999 to replace the former Radio Finland and began broadcasting television news bulletins on Yle TV1 from 7 June that year, with the last television broadcast going out on 26 February 2017 as the unit switched to reaching its audience online.

Video: Yle News history, Nicklas Wancke
Video: Yle News

The unit now focuses on serving the English-language audience in Finland as well as people living abroad with an interest in the Nordic nation.

Aside from the daily radio broadcasts, Yle News also provides online news articles via our website, a weekly podcast called All Points North as well as a weekly email newsletter.

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