May 29, 2017 / 2:26 PM / 6 months ago

Finland's public broadcaster chief resigns after spat over influence by PM

HELSINKI (Reuters) - The editor in chief of Finland’s public broadcasting company Yleisradio is resigning, the company said on Monday, following a public row over suppressing critical reporting on politicians including Prime Minister Juha Sipila.

FILE PHOTO: Prime Minister Juha Sipila and wife Minna-Maaria Sipila arrive to the Helsinki Cathedral on the funeral day of late President of Finland Mauno Koivisto, in Helsinki, Finland May 25, 2017. Lehtikuva/Marku Ulanderi/via REUTERS

Atte Jaaskelainen’s actions came under the spotlight after two journalists quit YLE in December, saying Jaaskelainen had edited their story about the awarding of a state engineering contract to a company owned by Sipila’s relatives, after he received complaints from the prime minister.

Sipila was cleared by Finland’s parliamentary watchdog in February of any conflict of interest, but the incident caused a stir and cost Finland its top ranking in press freedom by media rights group Reporters Without Borders.

Finland’s media watchdog in March scolded Jaaskelainen and state-funded YLE, which delivers news online, on the radio and on television.

“YLE’s role in the society is more important, than my own role at YLE. My efforts to lead YLE’s news operations to conduct responsible journalism have come under suspicion. I hope our decision brings calm to YLE,” Jaaskelainen said in a statement.

YLE said the board and Jaaskelainen decided on his immediate resignation mutually.

Reporting by Tuomas Forsell; Editing by Alison Williams

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