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Jungner won’t wield ax in Finland

Exec says auds should expect license fee increase

Finnish public broadcaster YLE’s newly appointed general director Mikael Jungner says he has no plans to repeat the massive housecleaning that followed his predecessor Arne Wessberg’s takeover a decade ago. Jungner, a 39-year-old whizkid, was appointed general director Thursday, effective May 1.

He will begin working at YLE Jan. 1, but Wessberg will stay on as general director until April 30 to help smooth the transition. Jungner works as a liaison to the government for Microsoft in Finland and the Baltic states, but has had a career just short of meteoric by Finnish standards, having already served as adviser to several ministers and as political adviser to the prime minister’s Cabinet.

Wessberg, who has been wanting to step down from his position for some time to focus on international activities, was no lightweight himself when he took over the job 10 years ago.

A former journalist and TV exec, he began revamping the Byzantine pubcaster and its bloated budget into a broadcast entity that, although it remained non-commercial, could at least compete respectably on the media landscape for audiences.

At the time he took over, MTV3, the only commercial outfit in the territory, was a division of YLE. Now MTV3 is a part of Alma Media, Finland’s second-largest media group, whose major shareholders are the Swedish Bonnier group. Wessberg is now in his second term as GD of the European Broadcast Union.

Jungner told Daily Variety he sees “no immediate need for a sweeping housekeeping” when he steps up to his position. He said he will focus on facilitating Finland’s transition to digital and its shutdown of analog due in several years, as well as dealing with the government on YLE’s budget and programming quality.

He adds, however, that Finnish viewers can expect the $233 annual license fee to rise.

“Viewers will want more variety, and digital at this period of time is not cheap,” he added.

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