Speaking at a government press conference today, Prime Minister Andrus Ansip said ERR's decision to abandon rights to broadcasting the World Cup in Brazil next summer is unacceptable.
He said if the public broadcasting company followed through on its announcement, it would be cheating the taxpayer, and it should work hard to find a solution.
"From time to time I have been amazed at how there is enough money for nearly everything, but when it comes to the Song Festival or the Olympic Games or the World Cup, then there is suddenly a lack of money. We know that the semifinals or the finals are watched by several hundred thousand viewers and even the lower division games are watched by 100,000 people in the heat of the summer, so in my opinion it is not quite reasonable that they want to abandon a broadcast with such a large viewership. You know my stance - I'm a sports fan. If the public broadcaster were to not show the World Cup, of course I would be very disappointed," Ansip said.
"At present, it could indeed happen that if the public broadcaster does not broadcast the event, then it won't be broadcast at all. That is definitely not acceptable for me," Ansip said.
The prime minister mentioned ways in which ERR could find additional funds.
"One option would be to allow the football association to sell advertising and earn additional funds. Surely the commercial channels will not be happy if a new competitor in the form of the public broadcaster enters the advertising market. But it's been done before and it should be considered. Parliament also has the option of finding additional resources to support ERR from the state budget," Ansip said.
"In the end this is a question of priorities; what is given priority and what isn't. The 200,000 TV viewers who watch football feel they are honest taxpayers and they would like to see that what they have been looking forward to for a long time," Ansip said.
ERR's director Margus Allikmaa had said that if it came down to covering either the Olympics or the World Cup, he would favor the former as Estonian athletes are competing there and this is in line with ERR's statutory mission.