YLE (Full name, Finnish: Yleisradio Oy, Swedish: Rundradion Ab) is Finland's national broadcasting company, founded in 1926. YLE is a public-broadcasting organization which shares many of its characteristics with its British counterpart, the BBC, on which it was largely modelled. It is known as the "Finnish Broadcasting Corporation" in English.
YLE is a public limited company, owned by the Finnish state (with a 99.98 % share). It is funded primarily (90%) through a television fee, allocated by the cabinet, which is between €208.15 and €215.4 per year, as well as through private television broadcasting license fees. YLE has a status that could be described as that of a non-departmental public body. It is governed by a parliamentary governing council. YLE's turnover in 2006 was 383.5 million euro.
Today YLE operates four national television channels, 13 radio channels and services, and 25 regional radio stations. Finland being an officially bilingual country – around 5.5% of the population have Swedish as their mother-tongue – YLE provides radio and TV programming in Swedish through a department called Svenska YLE. As is customary in Finnish television and cinemas, foreign films and shows are generally subtitled on YLE's channels. Dubbing is used exclusively in cartoons intended for young children who are yet to learn to read.
In the field of international broadcasting, one of YLE's best known services is Nuntii Latini, the news in Latin, which is broadcast worldwide and made available over the Internet. YLE was also one of 23 founding broadcasting organisations of the European Broadcasting Union in 1950. YLE hosted the Eurovision Song Contest 2007 in Helsinki, Finland.
Yleisradio was founded in Helsinki on May 29 1926. The first radio programme was transmitted on 9 September the same year. This day is considered to be the birthday of regular Finnish broadcasting activities, though it was not before 1928 that YLE's broadcasting was available in the entire country. After this the broadcasting network was developed and at the beginning of the 1930's 100.000 households were able to listen YLE's programming.
In 1957 YLE made its first television broadcast tests, and the following year regular TV programming was started under the name Suomen Televisio (Finnish Television). The popularity of television in the country grew rapidly and in 1964, YLE obtained TES-TV and Tamvisio, which were merged to YLE TV2. From 1969 all of YLE's programming was made entirely in colour. During the past few years, YLE has founded a number of new radio and television channels and in 2007 there was a digital television switchover. A completely new digital channel Yle Teema was introduced, and the Swedish-language FST (Finlands Svenska Television) was moved from reserved analogue channel time to its own digital channel FST5. Five channels were reserved, where the fifth channel was initially used for 24-hour news (YLE24). However, this channel was decommissioned, and the replacement, Yle Extra, was also decommissioned in 2007. Until August 4, 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).
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 student radicalism and young reporters with socially critical programs that demanded reforms, and YLE was given the nickname "Reporadio".
Currently, YLE maintains that it is independent and impartial, and does not represent any current government's opinion, even if it is owned by the state.
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.
Conservative member of parliament Mr Pertti Hemmilä submitted in November a question in parliament about the plans of YLE to end its availability on international shortwave bands. In his question MP Hemmilä took up the low cost of the world band radio to the consumer travelling or living abroad. In her response the minister for communication and transport, Mrs Susanna Huovinen (sdp) 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 direct parliamentary supervision. (The link above leads to texts of the question and the response in Finnish and Swedish at www.eduskunta.fi)
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