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On 4 August 2022, the State of Finland replied to the European Commission regarding the complaint against YLE pursued by Sanoma Media Finland Ltd. The reply is the fourth that Finland has so far submitted to the Commission in relation to the complaint.

The complaint pursued by Sanoma in the spring of 2021 particularly concerns YLE’s video-on-demand services and digital learning materials. Currently, YLE offers video-on-demand services in the Yle Areena online streaming platform. In the complainant’s view, these services do not comply with EU rules on state aid.

In its fourth reply, the state of Finland notes that YLE’s video-on-demand services and learning materials are in accordance with the Act on the Finnish Broadcasting Company Ltd and EU rules on state aid. The reply explains that YLE is using new technology to adapt to changes in the audiovisual market and, thus, remain a meaningful actor while fulfilling its role as a public service provider. According to the reply, the complaint and subsequent replies by Sanoma are unfounded.

Due to EU legislation, correspondence with the Commission is, as a rule, confidential. The Ministry of Transport and Communications is now publishing summaries of the documents that will be submitted to the Commission. Public versions of documents will be published as soon as possible.

Two reports were also submitted to the Commission in connection with the reply. The reports were produced by South 180 and Copenhagen Economics, and summaries of them will be published.

The report by South 180 assessed video-on-demand services in Finland. According to the report, video-on-demand services and linear television complement each other, but audiences are gradually shifting from watching TV to using video-on-demand services. The implementation of YLE’s public service task requires adaptation to change in the operating environment, which is why restricting Yle Areena would prevent YLE from fulfilling its task.

The report by Copenhagen Economics is a response to an evaluation that Sanoma had made on an earlier report by Copenhagen Economics. Previous reports by financial consultants have concerned Sanoma’s complaint from an economic standpoint. According to the report, Sanoma’s evaluation on the market congestion caused by Yle Areena is unfounded in principle.

What's next?

The Commission will assess whether Finland’s replies are sufficient and then decide whether to request any additional information from Finland. The processing of state aid matters in the EU may take several years and include many rounds of written statements.

HT

Source: Ministry of Transport and Communications

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