Estonian coalition favouring private TV channels at the expense of ETV
August 16th, 2009 - 11:53 UTC by Andy Sennitt

The Estonian coalition government consisting of the Reform Party and Pro Patria/Res Publica Union (IRL) want to cancel the annual licence tax of private channels Kanal2 and TV3, in a move seen by observers as currying their favour prior to the municipal elections. So far, these two channels have paid EEK 25 million (US$2.283 million) each to the state every year and the national channel ETV has stopped broadcasting commercials, Eesti Ekspress writes.

ETV is struggling already because those EEK 25 million taxes do not go to national broadcasting but to the state budget. In addition, the Reform Party and IRL have struck ETV further by reducing its budget by EEK 37 million - EEK 25 million from investments and EEK 12 million from operating expenses.

Urmas Kook from Estonian National Broadcasting said it is a stupid idea to give up EEK 50 million so easily for the private channels and at the same time cut EEK 37 milllion from the national broadcasting. This shows strong lobbying of the private channels and what kind of journalism Estonian politicians value, Kook added.