The Parliament's Finance Committee rejected a request by public broadcaster ERR for 650,000 euros to cover the cost of airing the European Football Championship and the 2016 Summer Olympic Games.
Remo Holsmer, head of the committee, said ERR is now asking for additional funding every other year, whenever a large sports event takes place.
He said there is confusion about the size of the request and about the rights to air the sporting events. Holsmer added that a rumoured deal between ERR and TV3 could see the broadcasting rights of the two key sporting events in summer 2016 be divided up, and the talks between the state-funded ERR and privately-owned TV3 make the situation confusing.
ERR board member Ainar Ruussaar said ERR is in talks with private television channel TV3, refusing to comment as nothing has been decided between the two.
ERR chief Margus Allikmaa said he does not want to give rights to the football European Championship to TV3, but if the state does not provide additional funding, the rights could be sold.
ERR's budget will increase 6.6 percent in 2016 to nearly 30 million euros. The rights to the two sporting events cost a combined 1.2 million euros, while the launch of ETV+, a Russian-language television channel, has also taken its toll on the budget.
The public broadcaster, which is also home to ERR News, has to cut staff numbers by 8 or 9, from around 650, as part of public-sector-wide cuts enforced by the government. If football rights are not sold to TV3 and additional funding from the government is not received, more cuts in staff of programming could be made. ERR News itself has already seen its staff positions cut from three to two editors.
Two years ago, the government found 300,000 euros for ERR to show the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
Editor: J.M. Laats