The parliamentary group of the Social Democratic Party (SDE) on Wednesday submitted to the Riigikogu a draft resolution suggesting the government should develop a package of economic measures to mitigate the effects of coronavirus (COVID-19) in the media sector.
The explanatory memorandum said the spread of coronavirus and measures to prevent it will have a negative impact on the Estonian economy and the media sector, which plays an important role in informing people during the crisis, has not been left unaffected.
"In times of crisis, people turn to classic journalism for information, appreciating the reliability of the information it provides. Despite the growing audience, the media sector is not able to earn the usual volume of revenue from advertising sales, as the advertising market has shrunk in times of crisis and many of the planned campaigns have been canceled or are about to be canceled. It is not known today how long the emergency situation in Estonia will last and what the resulting downturn will be like. This will force media organizations to cut back and may jeopardize the continuation of their work," it is said in the explanatory memorandum.
The SDE parliamentary group said it values the importance of free journalism in a democratic country as a binder of society as well as a watchdog of both politicians and authority, and believes that everything possible must be done to prevent Estonian media companies from going bankrupt and surviving the current crisis.
"To ensure this, we are proposing to the Government of the Republic to develop a package of economic measures to mitigate the effects of coronavirus in the media sector. We consider it necessary, at least for the duration of the emergency situation, to consider increasing the subsidies for newspaper delivery to a level that would reduce home delivery prices by half. As the owner of postal company Omniva, the state could consider postponing the deadline for paying home delivery bills until the end of the emergency situation. Consideration should also be given to a lower VAT rate on digital subscriptions to media publications," the party said in the explanatory memorandum.
The proposed measures should help media companies and their employees and ensure the continued functioning of the media.
Editor: Helen Wright