Rõivas' Tallinn TV Ban Row Continues

Prime Minister Taavi Rõivas (Postimees/Scanpix)
6/27/2014 11:45 AM
Category: Politics
Experts and politicians with a media background continue their criticism of Prime Minister Taavi Rõivas, who banned the municipal television station of the capital Tallinn from government press conferences on the grounds that the channel is biased.

Rõivas told ETV on Thursday that although Tallinn TV (TTV) has formally met the requirements to obtain a license, they are not an objective channel and often use airtime for blatant propaganda for the Center Party, which rules Tallinn, or statements that undermine the credibility of the state (its vocal criticism of e-voting) and pro-Kremlin.

Indrek Ibrus, an adviser on audiovisual media to the Estonian Ministry of Culture and a research fellow at Tallinn University, said that Rõivas should take a few steps back and admit that if a license has been approved and the channel is obligated to report news, there is no point in hindering it. In his view, the move violates the principle of media freedom and it would raise questions abroad.

IRL's Anvar Samost, a long-time head of the Baltic News Service and former editor of Postimees daily, said that Rõivas attempts to ride the wave of a popular issue, but more problematically, takes it upon himself to decide who is a journalist and who is not.

Former journalist and member of the Center Party Heimar Lenk said the content of the television programs should not be a concern of the prime minister, but he is obligated to talk to the Estonian press and give information at the government's press conferences.

MP Barbi Pilvre, a Social Democrat and a lecturer in the Institute of Communication at Tallinn University, said the municipal media is a problem, not just in the capital but in the entire country.

A number of Reform Party MPs have also criticized PM Taavi Rõivas for banning the city-operated Tallinn TV from government press conferences.

Rõivas banned the station from government press conferences last week, also tweeting: “all journalistic outlets are welcome to the conferences, but calling Tallinn TV journalism would be an insult to journalism.”


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