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Basic Agreement

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The task of the Council for Mass Media is to cultivate responsible freedom in regard to the mass media as well as provide support for good journalistic practice. Those who have signed below commit themselves to observe this agreement and to exert influence to the effect that their members and those in their service shall function in a manner befitting this contract.

The Council for Mass Media shall henceforth be referred to as 'Council,' the co-signers as the 'Association' and those communications media within the scope of the field as the 'Mass Media.'

Council functions and sphere of operation

1 § Council functions

The general task of the Council is interpret good journalistic practice as well as defend freedom in regard to speech and the right to publication.

The Council deals with issues on the basis of request made to the same, but can also take up a matter important as a question of principle on its own initiative.

In individual cases the Council may, in addition to its resolutions as given, also prepare statements of a general nature.

2 § Council jurisdiction

The Council may deal with editorial content as well as advertising material in contradistinction to the same, as approved in the Mass Media within this basic agreement.

The Council may also take up the procedures in the gathering of information on the part of those in the service of the Mass Media or those doing freelance work for the same.

The Council may likewise address itself to any attempts on the part of the authorities or individuals to limit the freedom of speech or the right to publication.

3 § Principles of Council resolution

The Council bases its decisions on its free deliberation in respect to the Journalist Guidelines and other established principles of good journalistic practice.

4 § Consequences of good practice infraction

Any Mass Media which the Council regards as having violated good journalistic practice must publish the resolution of the Council without delay and without direct comment.

The Council may designate, within its agenda, by which means this publication requirement in respect to various Mass Media shall be applied in practice.

Council assembly

5 § Council members

The Council is made up of nine members, whose term of office is three years.

A select committee consisting of representatives of the Associations shall appoint six of the members as well as personal auxiliary members for the same. Those appointed should be professionally experienced and well-grounded in ethical questions. They should in toto reflect expertise in respect to both the press and the electronic media. The decisions in regard to appointment must be rendered unanimously within the committee.

The Council shall choose, as representatives of the public, three members and three auxiliary members. The same are not permitted to be in the service of the Mass Media nor in related positions of trust.

Proposals in writing including grounds for recommendation in regard to those members and auxiliary members representing the public must be prepared for the Council, in a manner defined by the Council prior to election.

After term of office has ended, the same members of Council cannot be appointed nor can they be immediately re-selected.

If a Council member resigns mid-term, a successor shall be appointed or elected for the remaining duration of the term in a manner faithful to the terms of this agreement.

6 § Council Chairperson

A Council Chairperson shall be selected for a period of three years. This person shall not be allowed to be in the service of the Mass Media nor in a related position of trust.

The term of office shall begin when the chairperson is selected and has assumed duties.

The relief association chairperson or a person summoned from another association shall act as chairperson for the caucus. Election of the chairperson must be unanimous.

If the chairperson resigns in mid-term, a new chairperson shall be selected for a period of three years in a manner consonant with this agreement.

7 § Council vice-chairpersons

The Council shall, on an annual basis, select two vice-chairpersons from within its midst.

Vice-chairpersons may be re-chosen.

Handling of matters within the Council

8 § Commencement of action

Any individual can render a communication published or otherwise brought to the attention of the public through the Mass Media for deliberation by the Council by written complaint to the Council office, or by undersigning a secretary-prepared writ completed on the basis of oral notification.

Prior to consideration, the party affected must be heard, unless this results in undue inconvenience. The matter shall not be taken up against the will of the party affected except in the event that paricularly pressing reasons apply.

The Council may, on its own initiative, take up for deliberation an issue concerning the freedom to publish or a critical issue of principle linked with good journalistic practice.

9 § Acquisition of clarification

Prior to resolution, the Council must hear the formal complaint or other object of notification.

The Council may hear, in addition to the parties concerned, the reports of specialists and also attempt to acquire written clarification.

The hearing of interested parties and specialists may be carried out on either a written or oral basis.

10 § Restrictions on deliberation

The Council cannot handle matters submitted on an anonymous basis nor, barring pressing reason, any matter in regard to which the time elapsed is longer than three months.

If the notice-provider clearly seeks resolution of the Council in conjunction with corresponding criminal court action or compensation for damage in a court of law, the Council shall not take up the matter concerned or shall interrupt its deliberation during such legal proceedings.

The Council may, according to its discretion, leave some other matter untreated or suspend deliberations.

11 § Disqualification

The Chairperson of the Council and members thereof are disqualified from handling any issue to which they are party or in regard to which they are in such close liaison that this may affect their impartiality.

As to what has been said about members, this shall apply where applicable to Council secretaries as well.

The question of disqualification as this relates to member or secretary shall be resolved in matters of dispute by the Council Chairperson.

Any dispute concerning possible disqualification on the part of the Chairperson shall be resolved by the vice-chairperson.

12 § Presiding officers and their duties

The presiding officers are made up of the Council Chairperson, vice-chairpersons and secretaries. When three members are present, the presiding officers form a quorum.

The presiding officers may ultimately decide on whether to take up deliberation of specific matters or to leave them non-investigated. The decision concerned should be unanimous.

The task of the presiding officers is to ready the matters coming before the Council for deliberation and to collaborate the wording of Council resolution where needed.

13 § Publicity in regard to deliberation and documents

The meetings of the Council are not public unless the Council in some specific case makes resolution to the contrary.

Anyone has the right to obtain information in regard to the documents in the possession of the Council to the extent that legislation in effect on public access allows.

14 § Council quorum

The Council forms a quorum when the Chairperson or one or the other vice-chairpersons and a minimum of five other members are present.

15 § Re-handling

The resolutions of the Council are final, nor may they be appealed.

If the resolution of the Council or presiding officers is based on incorrect information or misunderstanding, the Council may on its own initiative or at the request of the party concerned re-address the issue in question. Such request must be presented without delay subsequent to receipt of resolution.

16 § Voting

Resolutions of the Council shall be made, in the event that unanimity does not occur, by means of open vote. If voting results in a tie, the vote of the Chairperson shall be decisive.

In respect to voting which must of necessity be carried out by secret vote, a possible tie shall be resolved by lot.

17 § Resolutions

In regard to Council resolutions, entry of vote as well as its outcome must be carried out.

Resolutions are to be undersigned by the Council Chairperson or vice-chairperson together with a secretary.

18 § Report of proceedings

A report of the proceedings must be maintained relative to meetings of the Council and presiding officers. These minutes must make mention of those in attendance, the matters handled, the decisions taken and the results of voting obtained in consequence of the decisions involved together with names.

19 § Council economy

The financing of Council activities and other support shall be taken care of by the Council for Mass Media Relief Association by means of annual fees as substantiated.

The relief association may accept State assistance in support of the functions of the Council.

20 § Emoluments and expenses

The Communities shall take direct responsibility for emoluments and expenses on the part of relief association and select committee members as appointed.

Other commissions and costs shall be resolved by the relief association.

21 § Clerical personnel

The relief association shall decide on employment-related hiring as this applies to Council secretaries and other clerical personnel on the basis of nomination by the Council's presiding officers.

22 § Annual report

The Council must prepare a report of its activities yearly, which is to be given to the relief association at the latest by the time of its annual meeting.

Regulations concerning this agreement

23 § Becoming party to this agreement

An Association functioning in the field of mass media and unanimously approved by the relief association may become party to this agreement.

In approving entrance to this contract, the relief association must determine the annual fee in terms of amount, as intended by 19 §.

The Association may undersign the basic agreement without joining the same. Possible annual fees may be settled between the Association and the relief association.

The Association in having signed the agreement enjoys the right to use its identifying mark in its printing operations.

24 § Agreement-related obligation

The Association in having undersigned this contract obligates itself to the observance of the agreement concerned as well as to bring influence, by means of the methods at its disposal, on its members and those in its service to obtain conformity in its functions to that which is intended by this agreement.

25 § Termination of agreement

The Association entering into this agreement is permitted to cancel participation therein by making written notification of its resignation to the relief association. Termination shall come into effect as of one year from notification.

The Association seeking dismissal is obliged to remit its annual fee until actual date of termination.

The relief association shall decide on questions of dismissal due to contract infraction or negligence in regard to annual fee. Such resolution must be carried out unanimously.

26 § Changes to agreement

This agreement may be altered only by means of unanimous decision on the part of the relief association.

Regulations in regard to inception

27 § Formal inception of agreement

This agreement shall come into effect on 1 January 1998 with the exception of 5 §, which shall assume validity on 1 January 1999. The regulation proper to 14 § in regard to Council quorum shall be applied in like manner, effective from 1 January 1999.

Resigning members shall not be subject to replacement as appointed in 1998, nor shall new members be selected. The members required for the term beginning 1 January 1999 shall be named and selected in accordance with 5 § of this agreement.

Immediately after approval, it shall be possible to bring formal and valid inception to this contract.

By means of this contract, the agreement established on 10 December 1968 shall be rendered invalid as specific to the Council for Mass Media, together with its subsequent amendments and the above-mentioned underwritten report of proceedings intended to act as supplement to the agreement, as approved 1 January 1975.

Helsinki, 13 November 1997
Finnish Association of Magazines and Periodicals
Finnish Association of Local Periodicals
Finnish Association of Radio and Television Journalists
Finnish Newspapers Association
Union of Journalists in Finland
Finnish Broadcasting Company
MTV Oy Ltd ("MTV3" Finnish Commercial TV)
Association of Finnish Broadcasters

Helsinki, 25 May 1998
Oy Ruutunelonen Ab ("Channel Four" Finnish Commercial TV)
Finnish Urban Press Association

Other signers:

Helsinki, 19 February 1998
Vantaan Sanomat

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