Wednesday 3.5.2017 in Latest Developments in Finland Country Page
On 18th April 2017, Finland's status as the top-ranked country on Reporters Without Borders (RSF) World Press Freedom 2017 Index changed after a five-year period as the leader of press freedom in the world. RSF cited Prime Minister Juha Sipilä’s attempts to influence media coverage of his potential conflict of interest case in a state-funded nickel mine transaction as one reason for the change in Finland's position to third in the world on the most-recent Index.
The incident, known as "Sipilägate" in Finnish media, concerns Sipilä sending approximately 20 emails of complaint to journalists at the Finnish Broadcasting Company (Yle) that was reporting on the government awarding 200 million EUR in additional funding to bail out the financially-struggling mine. The mine in turn awarded a half-million EUR contract to a company owned by Sipilä’s relatives. RSF condemned the PM's emails of complaint to Yle as "harassment of state TV journalists". On 22nd March 2017, the Council for Mass Media (CMM) in Finland reported that Yle had violated several articles in the guidelines for journalists as it altered its reporting after coming under pressure and intimidation from the PM. As CMM stated on the case:
“[T]he volume and tone of the [email] messages the Prime Minister sent can be seen to have been so exceptional that it is possible to interpret them as an attempt to exert pressure”.