Women’s sport and Paralympics included in Finnish listed events overhaul

PYEONGCHANG-GUN, SOUTH KOREA - MARCH 13: Santeri Kiiveri of Finland competes in the Alpine Skiing Men's Super Combined - Standing on day four of the PyeongChang 2018 Paralympic Games (Photo by Moto Yoshimura/Getty Images)

The Finnish Ministry of Transport and Communications has indicated that leading women’s sports events and the Paralympic Games are likely to be added when it updates the list of sporting events that must be broadcast on free-to-air television.

Timo Harakka, the Finnish Minister of Transport and Communications, said that the current list is not up-to-date and the inclusion of events that include women and disabled athletes needs to be considered. The list was first created in 2008.

The Ministry of Transport and Communications is in charge of Finnish public-service broadcaster YLE.

Listed events are those that need to be available to the public on free-to-air television, which, in the case of Finland, means available to at least 90 per cent of the population without a financial cost.

Current events on the Finnish list include: the opening match, quarter-final, semi-final and final matches from the men’s Fifa World Cup and Uefa European Championship (as well as all Finnish national team matches in both); and ice hockey’s men’s IIHF World Championship.

The other events on the list are: the Summer and Winter Olympics; the FIS Nordic World Ski Championships; the World Athletics Championships; and the European Athletics Championships.

Päivi-Maria Virta, senior expert at the Ministry of Transport and Communications, said: “The list was last revised 12 years ago, i.e. there have been changes in viewers’ habits. In particular, we have received seen the ratings and importance of women’s sport grow over the years. The women’s football World Cup and ice hockey World Championships are among the events of significance which we will look at.

“Of course, it is also worth looking at the increase in the popularity of other sports and changes in viewership habits. We are assessing the social significance of different sports and other events.”

Virta stressed that it is the intention that the list is “limited” given the exclusive rights held by broadcasters. However, she added: “We also do not want to risk some broadcasts and sporting events not being seen at a later stage.”

The list is included in Finland’s Decree on Television and Radio Operations that is to be reviewed after the Act on Electronic Communication Services comes into effect in the autumn. It must then be approved by the EU Commission.

Earlier this year, the UK government enacted a similar change to its own listed events, the first change it has made in more than twenty years.

It added the Paralympic Games to its list of ‘Group A event’, which means live rights must be offered to free-to-air broadcasters at a fair and reasonable cost. It also consulted on adding the women’s equivalents of men’s events that are already on the list, with a decision to happen “in due course”.