The Hundred Years of Finnish Public Broadcasting Company
Yle, the Finnish Public Broadcasting Company, will turn 100 years in 2026. To commemorate the work of the past hundred years and to better understand its present position, Yle has initiated and is funding a four-year research program on its own history. The focus of the project is on Yle’s relationship to Finns, Finland and the culture in Finland. Collaborating universities in the project are Helsinki, Jyväskylä, Tampere and Turku. The Yle 100 Program is the largest-ever academic research project focusing solely on Yle.
The program is Yle’s investment in academic knowledge and understanding concerning Finnish public broadcasting and public services in general. All studies in the program will be done from the standpoint and within the requirements of academic research. A steering group of historians and media researchers guides the program, and all separate thematic studies are done in collaboration between the researchers of participating universities. Responsible researchers of the thematic studies set their own research problems and do the relevant methodological choices.
Yle and Culture
Yle hosts and has hosted many of the most cherished cultural institutions in Finland. These include the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra (FRSO), Yle’s Chamber Choir, Radio Entertainment Orchestra and Radio Theatre. Yle was and still is an important producer and funding organization of music, movies and documentaries in Finland.
Yle and Culture, the responsible research group tracks the perspectives of the Yle’s artists and makers as well as the audiences with Yle’s programming history as the starting point. The frame of reference is a transnational, internationally well-connected Yle navigating among media technology and cultural upheavals. Yle and Culture seeks to answer what kind of window to the world Yle’s programming has provided during different decades of the past century.
Yle, Finland and the Finns
Yle, Finland and the Finns, a subproject within the major project charting the history of Yle, focuses on the company’s relationship with Finnishness: how this public service broadcasting institution has defined Finland and Finnishness, how it has understood the Finns as an audience and a public, and how Finns have experienced its programming and policies. The main aim is broadly to position Yle in the history of Finnish society such that phenomena are approached not only as belonging to a historical era, but also through their changes over time. This includes the increasing emphasis on global issues and cultural diversity during the 21st century, as well as discussions about the future role of public-service broadcasting.
Yle as a Company and an Institution
Besides being a company history, The Whole Nation’s Media House – Yle 1996–2026 is a history of innovations, technological development and political and managerial decision-making. The study starts from the 1990s, when the idea of continuous broadcast stream was still fresh for television and radio, and proceeds to study a media house characterized by diverse digital and mobile services.
Central themes for the subproject are Yle’s functioning as a company, work community, service and broadcasting producer, but also as an object of political and cultural passions. Some of the questions asked are, what has Yle’s position been in the national and also internation media field, what kind of workplace and work community has Yle been, and how has the new distribution of national and global media power shaped Yle.
Marko Tikka (PI), University of Tampere
Marko Ala-Fossi, University of Tampere
Heikki Hellman, University of Tampere
Jussi Koivuniemi, University of Tampere
Sami Suodenjoki, University of Tampere
Turo Uskali, University of Jyväskylä
Events and Publications
The Yle 100 Research Program organizes various events and seminars for the public, stakeholders, the research community and the project’s researchers. An international research conference on media history and public broadcasting will take place in 2024.
In addition to popular works, presentations, research articles, seminars and a conference, three peer-reviewed volumes on the main themes of the program are expected to be published by the Finnish Literature Society. The volumes are scheduled for publication in 2025–2026.
Coordination and the History Committee
The main coordinator and head of the steering group is Niklas Jensen-Eriksen from the University of Helsinki. Anu Koivunen (University of Turku) leads the Yle and Culture subproject; Jukka Kortti (Univerity of Helsinki) is responsible for the Yle, Finland and the Finns, subproject, and Marko Tikka (University of Tampere) and Turo Uskali (University of Jyväskylä) head the subproject on Yle as a Company and an Institution. Research coordinator of the project is Olli Turunen (University of Helsinki). These people also form the steering group of the project.
The project has a history committee with Yle representation:
- Yle CEO Merja Ylä-Anttila, chair
- Professor Laura Kolbe (University of Helsinki)
- Yle Director Jere Nurminen
- Yle Director Ville Vilén
- Professor Mikko Villi (University of Jyväskylä)
- Dr. Ismo Silvo, secretary