HELSINKI, February 8, 2014 /PRNewswire/ --
The Finnish national broadcasting company, YLE, has decided that in the coming 2014 Members of the European Parliament election, it will not allow television access to any parties that do not have seats in the Finnish parliament. What the Finnish Parliament has to do with the European Parliament, representatives of YLE fail to state.
"This move is a brazen act of defiance to national legislation," states the Finnish Independence Party chair Mr. Antti Pesonen. Mr. Pesonen continues: "The seventh paragraph in the YLE broadcasting company Act states that the programming function of the public service YLE is foremost to support democracy. Equal treatment in equal situations is a hallmark of democracy. With the complete withdrawal of any television airtime, voters have no possibility of comparing the parliamentary parties in power and their goals to those of the challenging parties."
The move that infuriates not only the Finnish Independence party, but other registered challenger parties as well, is an ongoing battle that the challenging parties have had with national broadcaster YLE. "Without a constitutional court, the parties have no place to turn to in this legal issue," Mr Pesonen declares.
Mr. Pesonen is not alone. Mrs Terttu Savola, the party chair of The Poor Party was arrested by the Finnish police, when she wanted to attend the YLE post-election television broadcast in connection with the 2011 parliamentary election. The hurt and disappointed Mrs. Savola was subjected to such police brutality that the matter is presently in consideration of charges at the prosecutor general office of Finland.
Mrs. Savola speaks of the disrespectful way YLE treats political parties. "The Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) formally requested the YLE give equal airtime to all parties while it did an inspection in Finland in connection with the 2011 parliamentary election. Instead of complying, YLE has withdrawn all television airtime for 2014!" Mrs. Savola says in a cry for equality.
The executive producer for YLE election broadcast Mr. Jukka Niva defends the YLE stance in a net discussion that erupted on the online daily Uusi Suomi: "We are putting a lot of effort into internet visibility. In the plethora of YLE services, political movements are given the chance to state their opinions aloud and widely."
The former party secretary of the Independence party Mr. Saku Mättö has just recently set up an Avaaz petition in an attempt to force open the gridlock in Finland. Mr. Mättö believes the registered parties, which have existed for 10-20 years, are not mere political movements, and thus deserve television airtime.
An outraged political activist for a long time, Mr. Mättö continues: "A large portion of voters only follows traditional media, and especially television. We are sick and tired of the pseudo democracy that Finland and the Finnish establishment shows to us, the citizens, and we hope that international pressure will help."
Referencing the developments that have unfolded during the previous three years, Mr. Mättö continues: "How can there be a just election, when the national broadcaster gives absolutely no television airtime to the challenging parties? There would not have been an Arab Spring without media coverage. Without television airtime there can't be true democracy either!"
BACKGROUND AND RESOURCES:
In 2011 ODIHR gave the following recommendation:
"In line with its public service mission and in the interest of on-going promotion of vigorous democracy, the YLE should further continue developing modalities of access in a fair and non- discriminatory manner for all political parties running in the elections, allowing sufficient time and opportunity also for smaller and new parties to present their views."
For more information:
Mr. Antti Pesonen, party chair, Itsenäisyyspuolue r.p., Finnish Independence Party, tel: +358-400-565366
Mrs. Terttu Savola, party chair, Köyhien asialla r.p, For the Poor Party, tel: +358-50-5291171
Mr. Saku Mättö, political activist, tel +358-40-8330088