The 110th year of operation of the Finnish Newspapers Association – 2018
Distribution is more important than ever
The Finnish Newspapers Association increased its focus on safeguarding the industrial policy interests of its member companies.
The Association influenced political decision making and preparations by public officials both in Finland and in the European Union, in close cooperation with Finnmedia, who safeguards the interests of the entire privately-held media sector.
The Association had the practical responsibility of safeguarding physical distribution, which is vital to newspapers and free newspapers. The Association prepared a complete reform of the Finnish distribution system and presented it to key decision makers and operators in the industry as part of its work to influence the government programme of 2019.
Decision makers and stakeholders understood very well that the ever-decreasing distribution volumes means society needs to find more cost-efficient ways to produce distribution services for newspapers and other mail. This concerns the citizens’ access to information, and is therefore a socially important issue.
At the core of the reform presented by the Association was the combining of separate distributions, regional tendering of the distribution work and separating Posti’s societal function from its role on the market.
Value added tax to be lowered
The Association’s long time work to promote the lowering of value added tax from digital newspaper sales to the taxation level of ordered printed newspapers bore fruit at the end of the year.
At the beginning of October, the European Commission’s proposal to reform the VAT directive was finally passed by the Council of the European Union, and in December the Finnish Government handed its proposal to reform the VAT law to the Parliament of Finland.
The Parliament approved the motion unanimously on 19 February 2019. Taxes will go down from 24% to 10% on 1 July 2019. In addition to digital newspapers and e-books, the reduction concerns single copies of printed newspapers.
Marketing and research
In its marketing material for member newspapers, the Association emphasised the diverse significance, attractiveness and reliability of the press.
As usual, the Association followed the development of media’s reliability and other perceptions forming an image of media. The Association was also involved in conducting “Yhteisöllistyvä media” research which monitors the change of news media and foresight from many perspectives.
Surveys commissioned by the Association provided a good foundation for communications. In news media, there were many good news: the printed newspaper is number one in terms of reliability; for young adults, newspapers are more meaningful contributors to democracy and localism than before, digital newspapers is the preferred advertising channel for young adults and newspapers are used to retrieve information to support voting decisions.
To support the development work of Member companies, the Association examined their views on the future of the sector for the third time. The future is, among other things, expected to be clearly more positive than previously thought.
In the Association’s media education work, much was said about the importance of responsible journalism and about the Guidelines for Journalists. Young people were challenged to consider the reliability of media and the importance of ethics in media.
The importance of reliable media was also at the heart of Newspaper Week, which was celebrated with the “You’ve got the right to know” theme. Schools and newspapers actively participated in the week.
During fall, the Association arranged a media education tour for teachers in cooperation with the Council for Mass Media.
The joys and benefits of reading were featured in many ways: the Association produced the “Luetko sinä?” campaign for the United Nations’ International Literacy Day in cooperation with the Finnish Book Publishers Association. The research focused on the connection between PISA test results in literacy and the use of media amongst young people.
Free and local newspapers
The free and local newspaper divisions answered to the biggest challenges revealed in “Future of the newspaper industry” survey for member newspapers. These included reliability of distribution, distribution costs, the decreased media sales of printed newspapers and a lack of knowledge of digital business.
The best of the free and local newspapers were awarded in the traditional manner in autumn, during the Suuret Lehtipäivät. The quality competitions were attended by a total of 117 newspapers, 67 articles and 37 web services.
Suomen Lehdistö, the media sector’s own journal, published eight printed magazines. In June, the Statistics and stories special issue gave an annual review of the revenue development of the press.
In addition to the printed magazine, two newsletters were published. Newsletters and online articles that were shared on social media grew the readership of the Suomen Lehdistö.
The Finnish Newspapers Association actively participated in the newspaper publishers’ safeguarding work in Scandinavia, Europe and globally.
The Association influences the legislation of the European Union, through its own direct contacts, and, mainly, through News Media Europe (NME) in Brussels.
The Association participates in defending press freedom through the International Press Institute IPI and the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers WAN-IFRA.
The Nordic associations of newspaper publishers cooperate closely through Nordiska Tidningsutgivarnas Samarbetsnämnd (NTS), which gathered the associations’ leaders, lawyers and chairmen in Helsinki in August 2018. Representatives of the Estonian association participated for the second time.