ERR supervisory board chairman compares anchors to KGB interrogators ({{commentsTotal}})

Rein Veidemann.
Rein Veidemann. Source: (Siim Lõvi /ERR)

Chairman of the supervisory board of Estonian Public Broadcasting (ERR), Rein Veidemann, compared ETV’s news anchors to KGB interrogators in an interview with Postimees published on Thursday. ERR’s news chief, Urmet Kook, responded that pre-approved and soft questions would be just as Soviet.

In an interview with daily Postimees published on Thursday, the recently elected chairman of ERR’s supervisory board, Rein Veidemann, criticized what he called a too offensive style of ERR’s news anchors. Veidemann likely referred to a recent interview with Prime Minister Jüri Ratas (Center) on ETV’s main newscast, Aktuaalne kaamera, during which the anchor insisted on getting an answer to a question he asked the prime minister. Both the newscast as well as anchor Priit Kuusk were criticized by members of the Center Party, to which Veidemann belonged in the 1990s.

Veidemann said that this kind of style reminded him of a KGB interrogator. “I’m old enough to have been interrogated by the KGB and the [communist] party,” Veidemann said. “I don’t like this kind of offensive style.” The public broadcaster’s anchors did not need to cultivate that. Instead of introducing this kind of interview to the main news, ERR should rather run a political talk show that could have a more interrogative style, Veidemann told Postimees.

ERR’s news chief, Urmet Kook, commented that though he thought ERR should be open to criticism and that the public broadcaster could be criticized as well, Veidemann’s statement had been inappropriate. If the supervisory board chairman was in favor of pre-approved and soft questions in interviews, then that had a decidedly Soviet taste to it, Kook said.

New supervisory board, new management

Starting June 1, Erik Roose will replace Margus Allikmaa as CEO of Estonian Public Broadcasting. With him, a new management will take over. Though this isn’t the only change facing the organization, as its supervisory board also changed.

The supervisory board is appointed by the Riigikogu and typically mainly consists of MPs. It confirms the choices of the CEO for the members of ERR’s management, and has recently been renewed by the Riigikogu.

Erik Roose, to replace current CEO Margus Allikmaa on June 1, proposed editor-in-chief of Vikerraadio Riina Rõõmus, ERR’s financial director Joel Sarv, former director of private TV channel Kanal 2 Urmas Oru, and ERR’s new media development director, Jaanus Lillenberg. This management of five would reflect the different aspects of ERR’s business, Roose explained his choice.

The supervisory council, after some deliberation, chose to confirm everyone except Jaanus Lillenberg. The management will take up work with four members for the time being.

Editor: Dario Cavegn