New Government Blocks Sale of TV Tower
The new Economic Affairs Minister, Urve Palo, has ditched a plan to privatize TV and radio broadcast operator Levira on grounds of security and history, as the company also owns the Tallinn TV Tower, a symbol of Estonia's regained independence in 1991 .
“The TV Tower is an important security object for Estonia, especially in the light of the events in Ukraine, which highlighted the importance of the spread of objective information and the importance of that infrastructure being in state hands,” Palo told Eesti Päevaleht today.
Palo said the second part concerns the tower's symbolism, as Soviet troops tried and failed to gain control of the tower in August 1991 in an attempt to cut Estonia off from the rest of the world during a coup attempt in Moscow, which ultimately failed. Estonia re-established its independence shortly thereafter.
The previous coalition of the Reform Party and IRL made the decision to sell off the state's 51 percent share of the company more than a year ago. The rest of the company is owned by French company TDF Group, who is thought to be willing to sell its share, despite Levira turning a profit.
IRL's Juhan Parts, who initiated the sale while he was the minister of economic affairs, said the company no longer holds a monopoly on the propagation of information. More than 85 percent of TV viewers receive their signal from elsewhere, he said, adding that the company has branched out to other fields.
Levira owns 23 transmitter towers across Estonia.