In 2015, the value of the Finnish mass media market was €3.7bn, a decrease of three percent from the previous year. Dailies decreased by five percent, but non-dailies increased by two percent. Since 2000, publishing has slipped from more than 70 percent of the media market to 57 percent. Newspapers, including free sheets, still account for 28 percent of turnover and 36 percent of advertising in media.
Up to 91 percent of the total sales of the dailies and non-dailies came from print and 9 percent from online publishing. Regarding digital revenue, online advertising was 73 percent and subscriptions 27 percent. As late as 1988, the daily newspaper earnings from advertising amounted to 71 percent and 29 percent was from subscriptions. The scales were turned in 2015, as dailies made 45 percent of their revenue from advertising and 55 percent from subscriptions. Newspapers are now more than ever dependent on their subscribers.
The great majority of newspapers are non-affiliated and independent. Party newspapers are a curiosity in Finland at just a few percent of the total. Competition among daily newspapers in any town is rare. Only in the Helsinki metropolitan area is there more than one Finnish-language daily newspaper.
According to Kantar TNS, in 2016 advertising in Finland decreased nine percent in magazines, four percent in newspapers and one percent in TV, but increased three percent in radio and 13 percent online, excluding search engines.
The Finnish national readership survey shows that printed newspapers are by far the preferred way to follow newspaper contents in the spring of 2016. Of the population aged 9+, a total of 80 percent read a printed newspaper every week. Reading on a computer is the second favoured, as 51 percent of the population do so. People reading newspapers on a mobile phone nearly equal the amount of people reading them on a computer. Reading newspapers on a tablet is gaining popularity, too.
At the top of all websites (week 01/2017) are two tabloids, Ilta-Sanomat by Sanoma Corporation with 2.1 million weekly visitors and Iltalehti by Alma Media with 1.9 million visitors. Third is Yle, the public broadcasting company with 1.8 million visitors and fourth is the largest Nordic daily, Helsingin Sanomat by Sanoma Corporation, with 1.5 million visitors. Fifth is the oldest commercial TV company MTV, owned by Bonnier group Sweden, with 1.4 million visitors.
An overwhelming majority, or 95 percent, of Finnish newspapers are non affiliated. There were 66 party-affiliated newspapers in 1946, 43 in 1965, 18 in 1997 and nine printed party papers in 2016.
There is no general press subsidy in Finland. A party can decide how much of its parliamentary subsidy it allocates to its publications. Parties have increasingly invested in the development of their websites and their presence in social media.
Journalism is an independent and open profession. The membership in the Union of Finnish Journalists is based on occupational criteria, not on educational background or formal qualifications. The share of journalists having a formal degree has steadily risen.
Increasing online publishing and video use at print media websites require new skill sets. Due to the fragmentation of journalistic work, many institutions offer continuing education: Universities and universities of applied sciences with their continuing training centres and media companies with in-house training.
Finnish journalists work under numerous professional titles, such as journalists (newspapers, magazines, radio, television, websites), freelance editors, chief editors, photographers, video photographers, communication officers, communication entrepreneurs, publishing editors, graphic artists, translators as well as teachers and researchers of communication, journalism and media.
According to Statistics Finland, a total of 14,244 people were employed in journalistic and film and photography professions in 2014, of which: print journalists were 36 percent, radio and television journalists 19 percent, broadcasting and audio-visual technicians 15 percent, photographers 15 percent, production assistants and other stagecraft associate professionals eight percent, managing editors and subeditors five percent and announcers on radio and television and other media two percent.
The Finnish mass media market is lightly regulated and mainly subject to self-regulation. Radio and television broadcasting licenses are regulated. No licence, permit or registration is required for setting up a newspaper or other publication and online media operate free of licences, permits and registrations. The state does not intervene in the operations of media companies, unless the law is broken. State bodies control and regulate media operations with subsidies and taxation and by awarding licences, including for broadband services and the postal service.
In 2016, the value added tax (VAT) for print newspaper and magazine subscriptions was 10 percent, the same as for printed books. For single-copy sales of print and digital editions of newspapers and magazines, the VAT was 24 percent, the same as for electronic books.
The Ministry of Transport and Communications grants a discretionary subsidy to newspapers published in national minority languages and their corresponding online publications. Subsidies are also granted to Swedish-language news services run by the sister company of Finnish News Agency. The discretionary subsidy by the government has been a constant €0.5m per year.
The Ministry of Education and Culture grants an annual subsidy payable afterwards to cultural periodicals and to libraries for subscriptions. Periodicals maintaining societal discussion about culture, science, art or religious life may apply for the subsidy.
Terrestrial television broadcasting licences are awarded by the state. Yle is a state-owned company and its operations are regulated by the Act on Yle. The state has to own at least 70 percent of the shares of Yle. Currently, the state has a 99.98 percent stake.
There are no legal constraints or limits on foreign ownership in the media market in Finland.