Instructions for making a complaint

DRAW UP YOUR COMPLAINT CAREFULLY TO FACILITATE ITS PROCESSING. READ THE INSTRUCTIONS BEFORE YOU SUBMIT YOUR COMPLAINT.

Anyone can submit a complaint concerning a breach of good professional practice to the Council for Mass Media. Your complaint will be handled without delay, impartially and free of charge. Before you submit your complaint, be sure that it complies with the following instructions. Otherwise, your complaint will not be processed.

The standard length of the complaint is a maximum of 1—3 pages of text. The Council will not accept any complaints that exceed the given length and may require the complainant to shorten the complaint. A well-written complaint expresses, in a concise manner, the way in which the complainant considers that the article subject to the complaint is in breach of the Guidelines for Journalists.
 
1. Do not submit a complaint immediately. If, for example, your complaint concerns a material error you must first contact the media in question and request that a correction be made. Please attach to your complaint copies of any correspondence with the media in question.

2. Don’t wait too long to submit your complaint either. The Council will not process any complaint concerning an article that was published more than three months earlier. This limitation also applies to online publications.

3. Make sure that the media in question falls within the sphere of self regulation of the Council for Mass Media. The media that are bound by the Guidelines for Journalists are listed here in Finnish under “Ketkä ovat JSN:n takana?”.

4. Don’t submit a complaint if your matter concerns the content of an advertisement or, for example, its broadcast time. These types of matters are handled by The Council of Ethics in Advertising. You can, however, submit a complaint to the Council for Mass Media if you suspect surreptitious advertising; in other words, the advertisement cannot be separated from the journalistic content of the article.

5. Don’t submit a complaint about an opinion. The Council will not process any complaint concerning a difference of opinion with the writer or speaker in question. 

6. Acquire written consent from the individual or party on behalf of which you are submitting the complaint. You cannot submit a complaint concerning the violation of another person’s privacy or the negative publicity regarding that person without the person’s consent.

7. Attach a link or copy of the article to which your complaint refers. Remember that a link to an online article is not sufficient if you are submitting a complaint about a printed article. If your complaint concerns a radio or TV programme, please send a link or specific broadcast time and channel.

8. The complainant must pledge that they are not seeking a decision from the Council for Mass Media for the purposes of a court trial.

9. Do not submit an anonymous complaint. The complaint will be rejected if it does not include the required name and contact information. The complainant can be a private individual, an authority or an organisation. If, for example, the complaint is being submitted on behalf of an association, the written consent of the association must be included.
The complainant’s name will not be published on the Council’s website, but it will not be kept confidential and may be divulged to the media in relation to the complaint case. If the case concerns sensitive material, the chairman can opt to limit the publication of the material subject to the complaint and the name of the complainant.

10. Before you submit your complaint, read through the Guidelines for Journalists to find the section(s) that the media has potentially breached. Try to be as precise and accurate as possible. The Council receives many complaints that only refer to the truthful dissemination of information or section 8 of the Guidelines for Journalists. These are generally insufficient grounds for a complaint.
If the complaint is not submitted correctly, it cannot be processed. Every month, we reject complaints that have been submitted too early, too late or without the necessary contact information or required material.

The Council can also reject a complaint for other reasons. Approximately one fifth of the submitted complaints are processed by the Council. You can read more about the grounds for rejection here in Finnish.

The complainant will receive a response to the complaint, even if the complaint is not approved for processing.

The Council can also issue statements regarding the restriction of the freedom of speech. The fact that your letter to the editor or comment was not published does not, however, represent the restriction of freedom of speech. 

The media has the right to select which letters to the editor it publishes.

If you complain about the actions of the media, the complaint should generally concern a breach of good professional practice and not the restriction of the freedom of speech.You can submit a complaint concerning the restriction of freedom of speech using the same complaint form as for a breach of good professional practice, or by email.

(The Council has previously issued statements concerning the restriction of the freedom of speech with regard to the activities of a company, an authority and the Prime Minister that are available only in Finnish.)

Make a complaint here.