Consumer body keen on Postimees Group not charging for its TV channel ({{contentCtrl.commentsTotal}})

Kanal 2's
Kanal 2's "Reporter" show. Source: Screenshot

The Consumer Protection and Technical Regulatory Authority (TTJA) says that fast-tracking a broadcasting license to Kanal 2, a commercial TV channel run by the Postimees Group, is perfectly possible. Kanal 2 has been a paid cable service since 2017, but with the need for information during the coronavirus pandemic and the government's emergency situation arising from that, plus what Postimees says has been an urban flight, the group wants to revert to free broadcasting. The government has yet to form an opinion on the issue.

Peeter Sookruus, TTJA media services adviser, told ERR that the Media Services Act allows for new free-access TV channels without looking for complicated ways to achieve this, at least during emergency situations.

"Under the MeeTSi (the Media Services Act-ed.), a temporary license for the provision of television services can be issued quickly and flexibly, and can also be used for free-to-air television broadcasting,"said Sookruus.

"In the opinion of the TTJA, it is possible to resolve the Postimees Group's concern about the return to free circulation in the field of its media services and in accordance with the law in force today, and we do not need very fast emergency steps."

Sookruus also welcomed the fact that media service providers want to make their television programs as accessible as possible to the populace, diversifying the choice of domestic TV channels in free-to-air coverage which covers the entire territory of Estonia. Sookrus said that in an emergency situation, the more and more varied information out there, the better, and that this need not stop at Postimees Group.

"This would provide the public with more information channels, which is also important in emergency situations. The TTJA, as the media services sector regulatory body, is looking at these processes more broadly, and we must also consider others who may want to provide free access to their programs. There are opportunities to broadcast several more TV channels via free - access television. There are also legal possibilities for this today, which are offered by the Media Services Act, regulating the field."

Speedy process

Sookruus said that a temporary license to provide television services can be issued fairly quickly, once everything is in place. This also depends in part on whether further information is required from license applicants or not, he said.

"According to the Media Services Act, the TTJA must decide to issue a temporary license within a maximum of one month from the date of receipt of the application. But we will definitely carry this out faster and try to issue a license over a much shorter time. However, there are no specific deadlines."

Postimees Group had also addressed the Minister of Culture, Tõnis Lukas (Isamaa) and the prime minister, who heads up the emergency situation, though no direct response has been reported from either as yet.

Postimees Group had also addressed the Minister of Culture, Tõnis Lukas (Isamaa) and the prime minister, who heads up the emergency situation, though no direct response has been reported from either as yet.

"A meeting is planned with the representatives of the Postimees Group to discuss the proposals and all the possibilities," Kompus said, according to ERR's online news in Estonian.

As reported on ERR News, Postimees Group said there were three options for getting its paid channel back to freeview as it had been in the past: The Media Services Act route noted above, restoring its former freeview license, which would still be valid at present if it had not canceled it in 2017, or getting a short-term (of around a month) free broadcasting license specifically to cover the coronavirus pandemic, again under the Media Services Act's terms.

The TTJA's Peeter Sookruus added following the TTJA's suggestions, Postimees Group would also have enough time to consider whether to persist with the freeview license over the longer term and after the crisis had passed.

Technical considerations were also important, he said, with all the necessary facilities and arrangements negotiated between the transmission service provider (probably Levira-ed.) and the media service provider (i.e. Kanal 2/Postimees Group).

Owned by businessman Margus Linnamäe, the Postimees Group publishes daily Postimees and its several regional variants, magazines and airs radio channels, in addition to Kanal 2.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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