A draft resolution of the opposition Social Democratic Party (SDE) for supporting Estonian journalism, which according to its authors aims to avoid bankruptcies and help media publications overcome the crisis, was rejected by the parliament on Wednesday.
The draft was backed in the 101-seat chamber by only 28 deputies, compared with 51 votes that were needed for it to pass.
Where SDE leader Indrek Saar, introducing the draft, said that subsidies from the state don't call the independence of the media into question, Center Party MP Kalev Kallo asked whether the initiative was not about SDE attempting to buy a positive image for itself among media publications.
Saar said that while the media already has received support from three sources, which are the tax exemption for digital media, the home delivery subsidy, and the unemployment insurance fund measure, considering the loss of advertising revenue this is too little.
Isamaa MP Aivar Kokk observed that being the owner of a media publication himself, he finds the measures already implemented to be sufficient for the media.
"But that we should add eight million from the state, as has been said, I doubt whether this is the right thing to do," the Isamaa MP said.
The draft resolution submitted by SDE proposes to the government to quickly develop a support package for media enterprises. The SDE parliamentary group came out with its proposal already on March 25, when the media fell into difficulties due to the shrinking of the advertising market in the emergency situation.
"The crisis has demonstrated the need for reliable and balanced information for the functioning of society. The Estonian press has served people well and helped them cope better in times of crisis. It is now the duty of the state to help the media so that economic setbacks do not become fatal for some publications. Saving the free press is our common cause," SDE leader Indrek Saar said.
According to Saar, the government has taken some steps in the last month to support journalism, but that is not enough. One of the solutions envisaged by SDE is that the state would buy social advertisements from the private media for a decent amount, which would help alleviate the loss of advertising revenue and provide the state with affordable advertising space
Editor: Helen Wright