Regulatory authorities

Two ministries responsible for enforcing communication policy are the Ministry of Education and Culture and the Ministry of Transport and Communications.

The Ministry of Education and Culture is responsible for developing educational, science, cultural, sport and youth policies and international cooperation in these fields. The Ministry governs publicly funded and subsidised museums, theatres and orchestras, local cultural provision and subsidised organisational and civic activities. The Ministry oversees the content of TV, video and films, copyright issues, education, archiving and research; it also grants subsidies to cultural periodicals.

An important body for journalists is the Copyright Council, which operates under the Ministry of Education and Culture. The government appoints the Copyright Council for three years at a time to assist the Ministry of Education and Culture in copyright issues and to give statements on the application of the Copyright Act. The Council is composed of representatives of the major right holders and users of protected works. Anyone can request a statement from the Copyright Council, regardless of personal interests at stake.

The Ministry of Transport and Communications is responsible for the legislation on communications networks, issues of privacy protection and data security, promoting access to communications services, the policy on frequencies and the legislation on radio and TV broadcasting. The minister of communications represents Finland in the EU Council of telecommunications ministers.

From the late 1980s telecommunications has been open to competition. Despite the limited amount of frequencies, a sparse population and a small communications market, Finland has communications services that are inexpensive and represent high standards in international terms.

Television broadcasting in a terrestrial network requires an operating licence (programming licence) from the government. The Finnish Broadcasting Company Yle is exempt from having an operating licence for television broadcasting in frequencies that have been allocated to it by the government in its frequency plan. Digita is responsible for the television network. The government grants operating licences for local and regional radio services and for special radio broadcasting. Regional or local licences have been granted to 51 radio stations. A temporary radio may operate across a broader area than regional radios and this area is defined separately in the operating licence. Cable television system (CATV) is used for distributing TV and radio programmes on a fixed distribution network. Cable television networks are often used for broadband Internet.

The Ministry is responsible for state subsidies to newspaper publishing. The government budget includes annual provisions for political party newspapers and for discretionary press subsidies. The discretionary subsidies are granted to print and online newspapers published in national minority languages. Subsidies are also granted to the Swedish-language news services of the Finnish News Agency.

The Ministry’s goal is to create a well-functioning communications and digital services market. This provides new business opportunities, promotes exports and increases the line of services. Regulation of communications markets targets the creation of technology-neutral, high-quality, reasonably priced and comprehensive services.

The basic communication services are telephone, broadband and postal services and television and radio broadcasting by Yle, the Finnish Broadcasting Company. Yle has a special right to carry out public service television and radio broadcasting without a licence, because its operations are defined in the law.

A broadband connection is a universal service in Finland. Consumers are entitled to obtain a reasonably priced telephone subscription or a 2 Mbit/s broadband service to their permanent place of residence or to a place of business.

Telecom operators designated as universal service providers are obligated to provide a reasonably-priced service to the permanent places of residence and business establishments in the area. The subscription may be implemented as a fixed or wireless connection. The 2 Mbit/s connection speed enables the use of basic online services, such as online banking, newspapers and magazines.

From 2013, Yle's operations have been funded by a public broadcasting tax. Unpaid TV licence fees were no longer collected after the beginning of 2015, because debt collection costs became higher than the income from the fees. Broadcast tax is levied annually from people and corporations with other income taxes.

FICORA ensures data security in communications in Finland and that the country’s communications networks and markets function effectively and without interruption and also that the position of consumers is safeguarded. FICORA employs about 240 specialists within jurisprudence, economics and technology.

FICORA has a strategy lasting between 2012 and 2020, which works to ensure "reliable and easy communications for everyone in Finland" by 2020. This will be achieved by focusing on three goals: Provision of communications services will be more versatile, availability of basic communications services will improve and reliability and security of communications networks and services will be developed. Cyber security is a new item on agenda, via an external division, the National Cyber Security Centre Finland.

The Authority actively promotes the market entry of communications services, intervenes if defects appear in the communications markets, provides radio frequencies for new purposes and increases transparency in the markets. Proactive goals of this kind seem like a new course of action among regulatory authorities. The majority of its operations are financed by collecting fees. The largest income sources are frequency fees for radio transmitters.

The government ensures that the public service broadcasting company Yle has sufficient network capacity for terrestrial television and radio operations. The government allocates Yle a fixed number of frequencies based on a frequency plan. Yle is not permitted to broadcast advertisements. Yle operations are funded by the broadcasting tax.

Data Protection Ombudsman provides guidance and advice on all issues related to the processing of personal data and controls the observance of the Data Act. Personal Data Act improves the opportunity of individuals to control the use of their personal data. The Finnish Constitution guarantees every citizen's private life and honour and the sanctity of the home. Citizens have the right to know why and how their personal data is being processed.

The Data Protection Board is an independent authority consisting of a chair, deputy chair and five members, who are required to be familiar with registry operations. The board is appointed by the Council of State for a term of three years. The board may grant controllers permission to process personal data, provided that certain prerequisites are fulfilled. The ombudsman operates in connection with the Ministry of Justice.

There are two courts dealing with mass media issues. The Supreme Court handles press freedom lawsuits that often become precedents for media. The Supreme Administrative Court is the highest court in the administrative court system and its jurisdiction covers the legality of the decisions of government officials and access to materials of the authorities.

The supervising of media content is achieved via voluntary self-regulation and through the cooperation of business actors in the sector. Supervision for self-regulation is carried out by the sector itself, based on the various contracts and guidelines of those involved. The authorities intervene only in criminal cases.

The Council for Mass Media (CMM) acts as a self-regulatory body for mass media content. The council was established in 1968 by publishers and journalists in mass communication. The Council publishes the guidelines for journalists and follows the adherence to them and defends the freedom of speech and expression. The introduction to the guidelines reads: “Freedom of speech is the foundation of a democratic society. Good journalistic practice is based on the public's right to have access to facts and opinions.”

CMM does not exercise legal jurisdiction, journalists and other media personnel affiliated with it commit themselves to advancing and upholding the ethical principles of the profession.

The current Guidelines for Journalists are from January 2014. The guidelines include an annex from 2011 concerning websites.

Any person feeling that there has been a breach of good professional conduct by the media, may contact the Council, which, once it has established that good professional conduct has been breached, issues a notice. The party in violation must publish said note within a short time span.

All complaints are handled free of charge and within five months. The chair may give independent resolutions on matters, which do not qualify as breach of good professional conduct and are of no significant importance.

The chair is aided by 13 members, whose term of office is three years. Eight members represent expertise in media and five represent the public. The chair, whose expertise may also be in media, is appointed by the Managing Group. Representatives of the public are elected by CMM itself. They may not be employees or board members of any media entity.

The complaints must be submitted in writing and signed, most commonly via an online complaint form.

National regulations on communications and media (Unofficial translations in English if accessible behind the links.):