State rejects request to support private media journalists' wages

Daily Eesti Päevaleht (EPL) is one of several publications in Ekspress Group's portfolio. Source: Anna Aurelia Minev/ERR

The state does not intend to support the wages of private media journalists in difficulty during the emergency situation as requested by the Estonian Media Enterprises Association (Eesti Meediaett.

"There is no explicit support for media companies through specific grants distributed through the Ministry of Culture. However, media companies have the opportunity to apply for support for measures designed for entrepreneurship," Minister of Culture Tõnis Lukas (Isamaa) said Thursday while presenting support options available from the Ministry of Culture.

The Estonian Media Enterprises Association has proposed the state should compensate 40 percent of the salary costs of employees involved in the production of journalistic content by the end of July. 

"Under the Media Union, we are proposing a uniform and solidarity-based measure to support the news media (which does not concern entertainment). We ask for you to support us by reimbursing 40 percent of the wage costs of employees involved in the production of journalistic content for four months (until the end of July)," the media union said in a statement sent to the government last week.

The association has pointed out that media companies may not fit into the wage subsidy scheme provided by the government's unemployment fund.

The government's press service told ERR on Wednesday that the request had been forwarded to the Ministry of Culture.

Lukas said at a news conference on Thursday that the state supports the creative people involved in media companies' programs and that it also gives them more opportunities to act.

The minister also pointed out that the Ministry of Culture had proposed to reduce the VAT on digitally distributed media to 9 percent, similar to paper publications, which could also support the media.

"In the case of books, it concerns both books and educational materials, but in the media, newspapers and magazines and related web publications. But it does not concern advertising and pornographic publications," Lukas emphasized.

Economic stimulus measures announced by the government on Thursday include a total of €25 million in additional funding for the cultural sector.

In recent weeks daily newspaper Postimees, business newspaper Äripäev and Õhtuleht have all announced the need to either make redundancies or cut journalists wages due to the economic crisis caused by the coronavirus.


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Editor: Helen Wright

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