Saturday, December 30, 2006

YLE Finland to end shortwave Dec. 31

The end of the year marks the end of an era in Finnish broadcast history. On 31 December, YLE - the Finnish Broadcasting Company will transmit its final shortwave broadcast. For half a century, shortwave radio was the only way to stay in touch with home. But YLE decided earlier this year to close down all international shortwave broadcasts in favour of Internet, mobile and satellite services.
Finland’s first pre-war short wave broadcasts were transmitted from Lahti, former home of the nation’s only longwave station. The country’s post-war attempts at international broadcasting were transmitted from a shortwave station at Pori on the west coast. Opened in 1948, it provided a link with home for Finns residing abroad. Broadcasts sent out from Pori also attracted many enthusiastic listeners around the world through its popular English language broadcasts. For a time, there were also broadcasts in German and French.
Cold war power battles over the airwaves soon began to drown out Finland’s small voice and a new purpose-built shortwave centre was inaugurated outside Pori in the eighties. A powerful mediumwave transmitter at the site served Finnish speaking listeners in parts of Sweden. The close down of the Pori shortwave station also means YLE will lose some listeners to its Russian service. These broadcasts are more and more aimed at the Russian minority living in Finland. YLE broadcasts daily news bulletins in English on radio and television but these are aimed for audiences in Finland.
Replacing the shortwave broadcasts are an Internet service and mobile phone services as well as satellite distribution of all YLE radio channels. Jorma Laiho, Director of Corporate Technology at YLE believes few people will miss the shortwave service. However, he admits that older Finns abroad might protest at the closure of the service from Pori that has kept them informed of events back home for over half a century.
(Source: YLE News/R Netherlands Media Network Weblog)