TV Classics and Media
It may have been a coincidence but hardly any of the people I met in Finland so far are fanatic TV-watchers. That hasn`t kept me from trying to find out which programs are popular, and what kind of TV programs people used to watch as a child, or what other media they have access to.
My informants of today are Mari (30, photo), Outi (26), Mika (33) and my hosts in Kajaani: Jani and Trisha. They first start telling me about Pikku Kakkonen (Little Two), which every Finnish person grew up with, and the young generation is still growing up with it. Pikku Kakkonen is a composition of short children`s programs, cartoons and discussion of letters sent in by young viewers of the program. The program is broadcast from 18h00 until 18h30 on weekdays and invariably ends with friendly words of Eastern German Sandman or Nukkumatti who sends the children off to bed by putting sand in their eyes.
`Everybody in my generation grew up watching Pikku Kakkonen`
Swedish imports Pipi Longstocking (Peppi Pitk?tossu) and Nils Holgersson were and are popular series. So are the Smurfs. Japanese and American cartoons have started gaining more popularity over recent years. Transformers, Dragon Ball and Pokemon are many a kid`s favourites. Since the introduction of digital TV and the recent extroduction of broadcasting via the analogue system, these programs have become widely available. Before 1 September of this year, only 2 public channels were available. This number has been doubled to four, with a fifth one just targeted at the Swedish speaking population. Three Finnish commercial channel and a wide range of international channels fill up the spectrum. People aged over 20 seem to be not so positive about the increase of TV programs and channels. As Jani keeps saying `Western TV is rotting the backbone of society`: a sentiment that more Finnish people may share with him.
Jani`s favourite programs include the news, sports and Uutisvuoto a comic program commenting on the news. Mika specifies that the news needs to be the Channel 1 version at 20h30, because the others versions do not suit him. He is not very much interested in all other TV programs, including for example Big Brother which has never become very popular in Finland. As Trisha puts it: `No-one I know has confessed watching it.`
Mari tells about how she watched Knightrider, Dynasty and Dallas when she was younger. Now, it`s The Simpsons re-runs, Topgear and Desperate Housewives. The latter is not broadcast under the same name in Finland. It is called `Perfect Housewives`, which indeed sounds a little bit more appealing. Foreign programs are usually subtitled in Finnish. Only cartoons meant for very young children may qualify for dubbing.
While writing this, I am watching `Countryman seeks woman` at Mari`s place. The second season of it has just started and the first edition was a tremendous success. It attached up to 2 million Finns (out of a total of little over 5) to the screen and was a topic of many conversations in schools and workplaces. Today shows the introduction of the new farmers, and how many letters they received from their potential new lovers.
Alternatives to TV
Alternative media and personal entertainment exposure comes from the internet, newspapers and magazines. Internet is gaining popularity, while newspaper figures are remaining stable. Finns still seem to prefer paper newspapers over online versions of the same information. For cost reasons, many people read local news papers which are much less expensive than supposed-to-be national ones like Helsinki Sanomat. The daily news offer is completed by magazine-like editions about the less-urgent news and gossip. They are called `Ilta Sanomat` and `Ilta Lehti` with distribution numbers suggesting that they are read by 10% of the Finnish population.
Magazines are widely available but with the exception of international formats, they mainly serve older people. Good exceptions to the rule are Suosikki, a monthly magazine about music and adolescent life, and international titles like Cosmopolitan and Men`s Health who are trying to conquer the market.
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