The Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE) wants to cut a €22-million project to build a new TV house for public broadcaster ERR, regional daily Põhjarannik reports, which would cancel a coalition agreement made last August to do so.
Speaking at a meeting in Jõhvi, Ida-Viru County, EKRE leader and interior minister Mart Helme referred to ERR's journalists as "so-called journalist-propagandists" who he said thought they were above censure, the paper reported (link in Estonian).
"But they do not have immunity. We have made a suggestion, that we simply take their money away. We are in a budgetary deficit...they want to get €22 million for erecting a new house. But we won't give them the money. We don't give this," Helme said at Tuesday evening's meeting, organized by EKRE and entitled "Kahekõne rahvaga" ("Conversation with the people").
Responding to a heckler who noted that Helme had already earlier made the same promise, the interior minister said that the situation had changed since that time, when the party had been unsuccessful in getting the allocation removed from the budget.
"We want to raise this again. It's like boiling a frog, you can't do it in one go, but by gradually increasing the temperature, you can over the course of time," Helme said.
The announcement comes days after an EKRE MP, Urmas Reitelmann, stepped down from his post as the party's representative on ERR's supervisory board following a backlash arising from a post he placed on social media late last week attacking several ETV presenters and ERR journalists.
Reitelmann's predecessor, Martin Helme, current finance minister, had attacked ERR in summer 2019, saying that some of its journalists displayed bias and should be taken off air.
Work on the planned TV house, to replace the current, aging edifice on Gonsiori street in Tallinn with a new building in what is currently a car park between the radio and news houses, was due to start this year.
Editor: Andrew Whyte