Friday, January 22, 2010

YLE - Public broadcasting in Finland

I just read an article (in Swedish here) about the funding of the public broadcasting company YLE in Finland.

The Swedish-speaking party in Finland, SFP, wants the media fee (which funds the activities) to be high enough not to give the broadcasting company management an incentive to drop the Swedish-speaking activities for economic reasons. I get that, totally, because the party sees it as its obligation to object every time something might threaten the public Swedish-speaking activities in officially bilingual Finland.

The are two problems with this situation for me.

First, the party. The party officials are afraid that they are neglecting their duty unless they object every time. The problem with that, is that people who object every time are a pain in the ass. They become reactive, at least considered as such, and the community needs builders. Everyone knows that a Swedish-speaking representative will support public services in Swedish when the time comes. But it is not the most important thing in society today and the party needs to show the Finnish-speaking majority that they know that.

Second - and more important - YLE, the Finnish public broadcasting company. It seems to me that we, the people, have lost track of what it's all about. The funding, which today is collected through compulsory tv licences, is considered a nuisance, a part of the system to be worked around.

That sucks. Let's forget the fees for a while. Let's pretend that YLE does not exist yet, that we are just starting to think about the idea of public, not-for-profit, media. Now, here are some things I want and most dictators don't:

I want someone working me, whose task is to keep the society transparent and make it more so.

I want someone working for me, bringing me the news unaffected by corporate or power interests.

I want someone working for me, explaining - not how I should vote and consume - but instead how the current financial system works, so that I can vote and direct my money accordingly.

I want someone working for me, who asks anyone but the spokespersons.
    And yes, I want someone who buys comedy-documentaries portraying Swedish-speaking cartoonists in Finland. Thanks for buying ours.

    This is whom I want to hire for the job. I don't want my paying for it to be connected to the possession of a tv set and I don't want supervisors poking around asking if I've paid my fee -- I want to have a cool magnet to put on my fridge and a digital one that I can put on my blog. And I want to buy some merchandise for my company, showing we support a transparent community.

    An anal probe on my desk with the YLE logo would set the symbolics right.

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