The Estonian Association of Journalists (EAL) disagrees with the Estonian Media Enterprises Association's complaint sent to the European Commission over state budget funding of public broadcaster ERR's online news. Private media enterprises find that such activity is not in line with the Broadcasting Act and fosters unfair competition.
EAL released a statement on Tuesday, saying that it does not agree with the claim that online news is not a suitable task for ERR and is distorting competition. "On the contrary, online news makes up an important part of the activities of a modern public-law media organization," EAL communicated.
EAL finds that the Broadcasting Act is outdated and in need of amending.
"The board of EAL is convinced that a democratic society needs maximum plurality of media channels, as opposed to a concentrated private media and a toothless public-law media constrained by a traditional understanding of public broadcasting. We also need a national debate on the role of journalism and support for it," the statement read.
"The board finds that narrowing the field of journalism through limitations and bans serves the interests of neither journalists nor readers. Instead, the sustainability of both profit-oriented private media, by protecting the Estonian advertising market, and ERR that is performing its legal function, by ensuring longer and clearer funding perspectives and specifying the tasks of the media organization, needs to be ensured."
EAL also pointed to the need to support journalists as creative workers in the crisis.
"The COVID-19 crisis clearly showed that journalists need the same kind of support as other creative professionals, while none has been made available. The association has long made efforts to see the journalism foundation restored at the Estonian Cultural Endowment and journalism registered as a creative profession and will sustain said efforts," the board wrote.
Editor: Marcus Turovski