EKRE MP tables bill to amend ERR law, citing balance issues ({{contentCtrl.commentsTotal}})

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ERR flag and logo. Source: Siim Lõvi/ERR

A Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE) MP has submitted a bill aimed at amending the law governing public broadcaster Eesti Rahvusringhääling (ERR), which he says should better guarantee balance.

The draft bill, submitted by Kalle Grünthal, one of the party's 19 MPs, is aimed at: "Not ignoring the principle of political balance in the production and transmission of ERR's programs and output, [and not] preferring one party or political movement over another," Grünthal said, claiming such and amend was needed.

The bill would also alter how internal monitoring of compliance with legal requirements is conducted, he said.

ERR was formed in 2007 with the merger of the formerly separate Estonian Television and Estonian Radio, with the Public Broadcasting Act of the same year being the main piece of legislation dealing with the broadcaster.

The bill would roll back some aspects of the law to the previous Broadcasting Act in force until the end of 2006, when the current act entered into force.

Grünthal said his bill would also amend the existing act to bring it in line with the commercial code in terms of rights, obligations and responsibilities of the members of both the ERR's external supervisory board and its internal management board.

"At the moment, there is a complete mess in this regard," Grünthal said.

At the same time, Grünthal pointed out the references to the earlier 2006 act, meaning his bill was: "Not about gagging [free speech] as you might be thinking."

Interior minister Mart Helme stepped down on Monday, saying that he had been subject to gagging or an infringement of his right to free speech following outcry over comments he made hitting out at both the U.S. presidential elections, which he says were rigged, and president-elect Joe Biden, who he says is a nefarious character.

EKRE, along with the other four elected political parties, sends a representative to ERR's supervisory board, an independent watchdog complemented by three outside experts. Previous EKRE representatives on the board have said that the broadcaster is biased, with present finance minister Martin Helme, in summer 2019 during his stint on the board, calling for several journalists to step down for displaying bias, and, more recently, MP Urmas Reitelmann did the same, referencing ETV current affairs show "Ringvaade" and its two main presenters, using a slur regarding sexual orientation.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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