Politicians: Banning Propaganda-Heavy Russian TV in Estonia Not an Answer

Photo: Postimees/Scanpix
4/3/2014 9:09 AM
Category: Politics

Several politicians sampled by uudised.err.ee said they consider it impossible or undesirable to suspend the activity of anti-Estonian broadcasters owned by Russian Federation corporations, a move seen in Lithuania this week.

A Lithuanian court recently suspended NTV Mir transmissions for three months in that country over allegations it was inciting ethnic hatred and "war propaganda."

But although outlets operated by large networks are the only full-time Russian-language TV channels in Estonia, Estonian political party leaders say that banning just TV content wouldn't do much given the level of Internet penetration, and such an action would be further turned against Estonia in Russian propaganda.

The leading Reform Party MP Kristen Michal said: "I think the state or private channels should offer interesting information. With the time element and plentiful information in today's media, everyone competes for attention, and if you don't have anything to offer, banning it won't yield anything."

Center Party MP Yana Toom said any such step would mean Facebook and Twitter would have to get the axe next, and said fire could not be fought with fire.

"If you attack propaganda with counter propaganda, that's a cold war and increases the threat. I think Estonia should have set up a media space for local Russians long ago. It was talked about for years but nothing was done. ETV2 was supposed to be a Russian language station but it isn't. And thus we helplessly lament: oh dear, what are we telling our Russians," she said.

According to TNS Emor, the station banned in Lithuania, NTV Mir Estonia has a 14.5 percent share of viewership, second after PBK.

The former editor of Postimees (and new IRL member) Anvar Samost said it would be better for the Baltics, Poland and Finland to get together and build "a media outlet, why not a TV station, using the experiences and talents of those journalists who have lost their jobs in Russia."

He also appealed to the conscience of business people who perhaps unwittingly fund propaganda with ad money. He added another factor was that Estonian network operators are freer than in Latvia and Lithuania to decide what TV station to contract with, and that they should also review their decisions.


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