Amendment proposed to the must carry obligation for radio programming

Press release 22.06.2022 10.30 fi sv en

Person using a radio. (Photo: Shutterstock)

The Ministry of Transport and Communications published a memorandum on 22 June 2022 concerning the must carry obligation for television and radio programming. A legislative project decision was also issued with a view to amending the provisions of the Information Society Code (917/2014) governing the must carry obligation for radio programming.

The memorandum proposes maintaining the must carry obligation for television programming, while abolishing or easing the corresponding obligation of telecom businesses with respect to radio programming. The current must carry obligation would remain unchanged for housing companies and other joint antenna network operators. No enlargement of the must carry obligation is proposed.

The current must carry obligation requires telecom businesses operating on a cable television network to distribute the television and radio programming of the Finnish Broadcasting Company on their networks. Housing companies and other joint antenna system operators are also required to ensure the availability of this TV and radio programming through their systems.

Following a recommendation in the memorandum, a project will be launched to amend the Information Society Code with regard to the must carry obligation for radio programming. This project will propose abolishing or easing the obligation of telecom businesses with respect to radio programming. It will also study the need for such measures as a transition period for introducing the new legislation.

Faster connections in cable broadband

Abolishing or easing the must carry obligation for telecom businesses with respect to radio programming would enable these businesses to optimise network efficiency, for example by providing faster cable broadband connections.

The number of cable radio listeners is small by comparison with the number of cable TV viewers, with an estimated 50,000 households connected to the cable radio network, and a probably even smaller number of active listeners. No precise figures are available for the number of users.

While it may be challenging for some households to transition from cable radio to other reception methods, low-cost alternatives to cable radio are readily available. Listeners may tune into Finnish Broadcasting Company radio channels using portable radio receivers on a terrestrial antenna network or via online radio streaming.

No significant deterioration in hazard warning broadcasts

The memorandum that has now been published was circulated for comment between 10 and 25 March 2022. A total of 22 statements were received. Some commentators stressed the importance of the must carry obligation for radio programming, particularly with regard to public hazard warnings.

The hazard warning broadcasts of the Finnish Broadcasting Company are based on a multichannel approach. The law currently provides that these hazard warnings are broadcast on radio, and also on television where the authority issuing the hazard warning so decides. Hazard warnings are also broadcast to the 112 Suomi mobile application. An in-house assessment by the Ministry of Transport and Communications has found that abolishing or easing the must carry obligation would have no significant negative impact on hazard warnings.

What’s next?

The European Electronic Communications Code allows Member States to impose must carry obligations under certain conditions. Such obligations may be imposed if a significant number of end-users use such networks and services as their principal means of receiving radio and television broadcasts. Must carry obligations must also be necessary for achieving their public interest objectives. These obligations must be reviewed regularly. The memorandum now published assesses the obligation in accordance with the Directive.

In line with the recommendation of the memorandum, a project will now be launched to amend the Information Society Code with a view to easing or abolishing the must carry obligation of telecom businesses with respect to radio programming.

Inquiries:

Inka Näkkäläjärvi, Senior Specialist, inka.nakkalajarvi(at)gov.fi, tel. +358 29 534 2052

Lauri Mustonen, Senior Specialist, lauri.mustonen(at)gov.fi, tel. +358 29 534 2252

Roosa Patrakka, Coordinator, roosa.patrakka(at)gov.fi, tel. +358 29 534 2192

Sini Wirén, Director of Unit, sini.wiren(at)gov.fi, tel. +358 29 534 2532