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Former Estonian Television news anchor: 'Our opponent used to be Moscow'

In celebration of 60 years of national television broadcasting, ERR News interviewed some of the prominent figures who have led ETV during its history. Enn Eesmaa worked at ETV as a news anchor and later editor-in-chief of its main evening news, Aktuaalne Kaamera (AK). He then entered politics and is now an MP, and deputy chairman of the largest opposition force, the Center Party.

Eesmaa started at Estonian Television in the late 1960s and led the short-lived entertainment program called “Channel 13.”

“The trouble started already with the name. Soviet Union only had five channels at the time and Moscow immediately questioned the name of our program. Is five not enough for you, they asked,” Eesmaa recalled.

Eesmaa, who studied English at university, enlightened viewers about Carnaby street, famous for its 1960s London scene, in the first episode. Three more followed before the show was canceled by the authorities. “It featured too much entertainment by official standards,” Eesmaa said, explaining the reasons given by the communist authorities.

Nevertheless, Eesmaa echoed other former ETV producers and directors who have said that Estonian television was more progressive and Western-like than its contemporaries in other parts of the Soviet Union. "We were given a little bit more freedom and we used it, of course," Eesmaa said.

Eesmaa also remembers fondly the exciting time in early 1990s when Estonia regained independence and he was the editor-in-chief of ETV's main news program, AK.

“Everybody watched us and we knew that what we did, was very important for everyone.”

Editor: S. Tambur

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