The Minister of Housing and Communications Krista Kiuru has presented the Government’s draft strategy for the future of television.
For television viewers, perhaps the most important news is that under the strategy, it would be possible to use common television sets for receiving programmes of the Finnish Broadcasting Company (YLE) and the principal commercial channels until 2026, if necessary.
The aim of the Communications Policy Programme for Electronic Media is to guarantee the quality and diversity of television and radio programmes and to ensure that domestic content production will remain at least at present levels. This would be ensured by imposing requirements on the principal commercial channels concerning programmes in domestic languages.
Almost all existing network and programme licences will expire at the end of 2016. Under the proposed strategy, network licences would also in the future be granted using a comparative method or what is called a beauty contest.
Two of the television multiplexes would be allocated to YLE and public service channels (principal commercial channels). One of the two multiplexes would continue broadcasting using existing technology until 2026, while most of the other multiplexes would introduce high-definition technology in 2017.
In order to promote efficient use of frequencies, other than the principal commercial multiplexes would have to pay a higher spectrum fee, which would, however, be set at moderate levels.
The setting up of alternative distribution channels would be encouraged by allocating the 700-megaherz frequency band, now used by television broadcasts, to the wireless broadband in 2017. A decision has already been made on the allocation of the 800-megaherz frequency band for broadband use. However, it is estimated that there will also be enough frequencies for television broadcasting after these allocations.
Programme licences will remain but the procedure concerning them will be streamlined. Under the proposal, the Finnish Communications Regulatory Authority would decide on television and radio licences, while important communications policy decisions would also in the future be made by the Government.
The future of domestic content production would be secured by obligating the principal commercial television channels to allocate at least 18 per cent of their broadcasting time or programme budgets to programmes of independent production companies. At the moment, the minimum requirement is 15 per cent.
Under the proposed strategy, television network licences and programme licences would be granted for twenty and ten years, respectively.
The procedures concerning radio broadcasting would also be streamlined. In the future, most of the operating licences would be granted by the Finnish Communications Regulatory Authority, which would also assume more responsibility for decisions concerning frequency technology.
A consultation process will now follow and interested parties will have an opportunity to submit opinions on the draft proposal by 2 July.
Mr Kalervo Haverinen, Special Adviser to the Minister of Housing and Communications, tel. + 358 50 331 6914
Ms Maaret Suomi, Senior Adviser for Legislative Affairs, tel. +358 40 700 5620
Mr Olli-Pekka Rantala, Director of Unit, Communications Market, the Communications Market Department, tel. +358 50 344 3400