Yleisradio Oy (Finnish), also known as Rundradion (Swedish) or the Finnish Broadcasting Company (English), abbreviated to Yle (pronounced /yle/; previously stylised as YLE before the 2012 corporate rebrand), is Finland's national public broadcasting company, founded in 1926. It is a public limited company which is 99.98% owned by the Finnish state, and employs around 3,200 people in Finland. Yle shares many of its organizational characteristics with its UK counterpart, the BBC, on which it was largely modelled.
For the greater part of Yle's existence the company was funded by the revenues obtained from a broadcast receiving licence fee payable by the owners of radio sets (1927–1976) and television sets (1958–2012), as well as receiving a portion of the broadcasting licence fees payable by private television broadcasters. Since the beginning of 2013 the licence fee has been replaced by a public broadcasting tax (known as the Yle tax), which is collected annually from private individuals and corporations together with their other taxes.
By far the largest part of the Yle tax is collected from individual taxpayers, with payments being assessed on a sliding scale. Minors, as well as persons with an annual income of less than €7,813 are exempt. At the lower limit the tax payable by individuals amounts to €50 per annum and the maximum (payable by an individual with a yearly income of €20,588 or more) is set at €140. The rationale for the abolition of the previous television licence fee was the development of other means of delivering Yle's services, such as the Internet, and the consequent impracticality of continuing to tie the fee to the ownership of a specific device. Yle receives no advertising revenues as all channels are advertisement-free.
Yle operates four national television channels, 13 radio channels and services, and 25 regional radio stations. As Finland is constitutionally bilingual — around 5.5% of the population speaks Swedish as their mother-tongue — Yle provides radio and TV programming in Swedish through its Swedish-language department, Svenska Yle. As is customary in Finnish television and cinemas, foreign films and shows are generally subtitled on Yle's channels. Dubbing is used in cartoons intended for young children who have not yet learned to read, as well as many nature and history documentaries ("to avoid spoiling beautiful pictures").
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Suomen Yleisradio (~ Finland's General Radio) was founded in Helsinki on 29 May, 1926. The first radio programme was transmitted on 9 September in that year, and this is the date generally considered to be the birthday of regular broadcasting activities in Finland. However, it was not until 1928 that Yle's broadcasts became available throughout the country. After this the broadcasting network was developed and by the beginning of the 1930s, 100,000 households were able to listen to Yle programmes.
In 1957, Yle made its first television broadcast tests, and the following year regular TV programming was started under the name Suomen Televisio (Finland's Television), which was later renamed Yle TV1.. The popularity of television in the country grew rapidly. In 1964, Yle obtained TES-TV and Tamvisio, which were merged to Yle TV2. Colour television broadcasts began in 1969, and all television programmes were broadcast in colour within the following ten years.
In the 2000s, Yle has founded a number of new radio and television channels. In 2007 there was a digital television switchover. A completely new digital channel, Yle Teema (~ Yle Theme) was introduced, and the Swedish-language FST (Finlands Svenska Television, ~ Finland's Swedish Television) was moved from reserved analogue channel time to its own digital channel YLE FST5, which was later renamed to Yle Fem. In addition to these four channels (TV1, TV2, Teema, and Fem), a fifth channel, called YLE24, was launched in 2001 for 24-hour news programming. However, this channel was replaced by YLE Extra, a channel attempting to cater to the youth, which was in turn decommissioned in 2007. Until 4 August, 2008, the fifth channel was used to broadcast Yle TV1 with Finnish subtitles broadcast on programmes in foreign languages (without having to enable the digital set-top box's subtitle function).
As of January 2014, all of Yle's TV-channels except TV Finland are available in high definition.
Until the end of 2012, Finnish citizens paid Yle a license fee for the use of a television, set at 252 euros per year in 2012. The license fee was per location, which could hold several sets (e.g. in a living room as well as a bedroom). The public broadcasting tax, also known as the Yle tax, replaced the license fee in 2013. The tax ranges from 50 euros to 140 euros per person and per year, depending on income. Minors and persons with low income are exempt from the tax.
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In radio, Yle was a legal monopoly until 1985, when local radio stations were permitted, and maintained a national monopoly until 1995, when national radio networks were allowed.
In the past, Yle has been seen in Finland as a "red" or leftist medium. This was true especially in 1965–1969, during the term of Director-General Eino S. Repo, who got the position with the backing of the Agrarian League and President Kekkonen (who was a member of the Agrarian Party), as he was Kekkonen's personal friend. He was accused of favouring leftist student radicalism and young left leaning reporters with programs critical of capitalism that demanded reforms to bring Finland closer to the Soviet Union, and Yle was given the nickname "Reporadio". After his resigning, he was demoted to the position of director of radio broadcasting, on the communist-led People's Democratic League mandate.
Repo resigned in 1969, but according to Yle, the "political mandate" remained, as Erkki Raatikainen was named director directly from the Social Democratic Party office. Subsequently, all directors after him until 2010 were Social Democrats. This was ended by appointment of the right-wing National Coalition Party's Lauri Kivinen as director in 2010.
During Finlandization and the leftist radicalization of the 1970s, Yle contributed to Kekkonen's policy of "neutrality" by broadcasting the programme Näin naapurissa about the Soviet Union. This programme was produced in cooperation with the Soviets and as such, supported Soviet propaganda without criticism.
The appointment of Lauri Kivinen in 2010 excited much adverse comment as he was previously head of the Nokia Siemens group which had sold monitoring equipment to the Iranian Secret Service, allowing them to arrest political dissidents throughout the unrest in the fall of 2009.
English-language newscaster Kimmo Wilska was fired on 13 August 2010 - after pretending to be caught drinking on-camera following an alcohol-related news story on Yle News. Wilska's stunt was not well received by Yle management who fired him that same day. Wilska received a lot of support after his termination.
Yle has been criticized for buying lots of HBO series. Yle has responded to criticism emphasizing suitability of series to channels with no ad breaks, quality and low price of HBO programming and stating that American programs even with HBO form only 7% of Yle programming.
The broadcasts on shortwave from Yle were closed at the end of 2006. Expatriate organisations had been campaigning for a continued service, but their efforts did not succeed in maintaining the service or even in slowing the process. The decision also affected a high-powered medium wave on 963 kHz (312m). A smaller medium wave covering the Gulf of Finland region (558 kHz, 538m) remained on air for a few more years.
In November 2005, MP Pertti Hemmilä (N) submitted a question in Parliament about the plans of Yle to end its availability on international shortwave bands. In his question, Hemmilä took up the low cost of the world band radio to the consumer travelling or living abroad. In her response the Minister of Transport and Communications, Susanna Huovinen (S) noted that Yle would now be available via other means, such as satellites and the Internet. She also underlined the fact that Yle is not under government control, but under indirect parliamentary supervision. 
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