Finland is one of the few countries where the media is truly free. The freedom of the press has been continuously strengthened ever since the first legislation banning censorship was adopted – under Swedish rule – as the first in the world in 1766.
A small population with a predominantly distinct language, Finnish, caters for a relatively small media market and hence a relatively concentrated media system. Still, the news media landscape is diverse, with a strong public broadcaster (Yle) counting almost half of both TV and radio audiences, a number of domestic private broadcasters, growing digital news outlets, and a high number of both regional and local newspapers. Media content for Swedish and Sámi language minorities is also available.
The majority of the media is totally independent of political parties or politicians. The only exception is the Finnish broadcasting company (Yle), the shares of which are owned by the parliament. The politicians have, however, no part in appointing or dismissing its journalists. Attempts by politicians to influence the content of the media are rare and not accepted.
The freedom of the press has been continuously strengthened ever since the adoption - under Swedish rule - of a censorship ban in 1766, the very first in the world. Media freedom is guaranteed by the constitution. Public documents have to be kept open to the media and the public. Limited legal sanctions can be ordered by courts in cases of defamation, extreme hate speech or high treason. The confidentiality of sources is protected by law and can be broken only by courts under limited conditions. Good journalistic practice is being overseen by the independent Council for Mass Media.
The media outlets are mostly privately owned and the number of media outlets relative to population is one of highest in the world. Social networks are the cause of the strongest financial pressure which destroys the business model of the mainstream media. Therefore, there is a process of concentration of ownership taking place which is not specifically regulated. The authorities cannot favor any particular media. There are no known cases of bribing journalists or media owners.
In spite of a relative gender equality in the society, female journalists are overrepresented as victims of online harassment and intimidation in comparison to their male colleagues. Physical violence against journalists is rare. Still, self-censorship risks to increase. Also, ethnic minorities are underrepresented in media staff, which constrains journalistic work and pluralism in media content.
Psychological stress and harm is caused not only by harassment through social media but also intimidation by legal means (Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation, SLAPPs), to which the legal system is yet to respond appropriately. Especially freelance journalists are in a vulnerable position and a support fund has been established by the Union of journalists in Finland to cover for loss of income, psychotherapy and other related expenses.