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Yle pulls kid's show segment after complaints of "racist" Native American costume

A music group that was regularly featured in the public broadcaster's daytime children's programme has been removed from the show following complaints from several viewers concerning a band member's "racist" costume.

Lato-orkesteri keikalla.
The children's music group "Herra Heinämäki's Shed Orchestra" was removed from Yle's Pikku Kakkonen programme after a public backlash concerning a band member's Native American costume. Image: Malla Hukkanen / Yle

Producers at Finland's public broadcasting company recently decided to remove inserts by the children's music group "Herra Heinämäki's Shed Orchestra" from its afternoon Pikku Kakkonen programme after the Native American costume worn by a band member sparked controversy on social media.

The removed inserts have been transferred to Yle's archives, according to the national broadcaster.

The editor-in-chief of Yle's creative content Ville Vilén said the cancellation of the segment was decided after several viewers sent feedback about one band member who was dressed in a Native American costume, saying they found it offensive.

Particularly the band member's wearing a headdress became the focus of heated debate on social media.

Vilén said that blackface comedies and Sámi caricatures used to be acceptable forms of humour in Finland, but that is no longer the case.

"Now we understand that it is racist and insulting," Vilén said, indicating that the children's music group falls into this same category. He said Yle needs to take more care and be very sensitive in the way the network depicts minority cultures.

Yle's Head of Audience Dialogue Sami Koivisto said the broadcaster's personnel had a long conversation about the incident.

"We have to learn to wake up in Finland to think about these things with a more respectful attitude and be more considerate of others," Koivisto said.

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