Following the formal diplomatic recognition of the German Democratic Republic (GDR) by the Nordic countries in 1972, an intensive collaboration over the Baltic Sea was initiated in a number of societal fields (Almgren, 2009; Hentilä, 2006; Linderoth, 2002; Åkerlund, 2011), one of which was broadcasting, particularly public service television. As an accommodating yet non-aligned neighbour of the Soviet Union, Finland was an important target for the diplomatic attention and influence of the GDR; however, Finns were hardly passive objects of diplomatic pressure. Rather, there were strong sympathies for the East Germans among the Finnish public, political elite, and media (Hentilä, 2004, 2006; Rusi, 2007, 2012).
While earlier research on the relations between Finland and the GDR has concentrated on political parties and organisations, top politicians, and the field of state diplomacy (Hentilä, 2004, 2006; Rusi, 2007, 2012), the perspectives of the public and the media have remained unexplored. Thus, this article opens a new perspective on Finland’s Cold War history by examining the role of the state-run, license fee-funded public service television company, the Finnish Broadcasting Company (YLE), in maintaining and deepening diplomatic relations with East Germany, from the recognition of East Germany in 1972 to the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.1