Television programs and radio channels nationwide shut down Tuesday as hundreds of workers at Finland's largest broadcaster YLE walked off the job to protest layoffs and cutbacks.
The 10-hour strike, due to end at midnight, came after Monday's announcement that the state-owned company, employing 3,600 people, was axing up to 200 jobs by 2008, on top of 400 workers retiring as earlier planned. Since 2000, YLE has reduced personnel by 9 percent.
The cutbacks came after a directive from YLE's administrative council that costs must be kept at 2001 levels. YLE swung into a net loss of Ђ51 million last year after a profit of Ђ53 million in 2003, and the company estimated that this year's net loss would be more than Ђ35 million (US$44 million).
In May, Mikael Jungner, 39, a former Microsoft Corp. executive, took over as the director of Finland's largest broadcaster and cautioned that major cutbacks would be announced this year, but ruled out raising the price of television fees, the AP reports.
YLE receives some 90 percent of its income from selling licenses, an obligatory annual fee of Ђ195 (US$245), paid by television viewers in this sparsely populated country of 5.2 million where radio and television are a major source of entertainment.
YLE was founded in 1926. It is Finland's most watched broadcaster with two nationwide TV channels and several digital channels. YLE also has several radio channels and is regularly listened to by some 70 percent of Finns nationwide and abroad
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