Telecoms firm Telia Eesti has opted to terminate its cooperation with the local franchisee of Russian-language TV channels PBK Estonia, REN TV Estonia, NTV Mir Estonia and several other channels broadcast in Estonia. Telia competitor Elisa is doing the same.
Due to the termination of the agreement, Telia TV will no longer broadcast TV channels carried by Nord Print OÜ, the local franchisee for the Russian-language channels, as of April 25, the company announced.
The reason for the termination of the cooperation recently revealed mitigating circumstances which state that Nord Print OÜ does not operate in accordance with the standards of a responsible business as set by Telia for its cooperation partners, Telia announced.
Telia's spokesperson Raigo Neudorf told ERR that the company will terminate its cooperation with only one company, i.e. Nord Print. Broadcast rights to other Russian-language TV channels, for instance RTR, are held by another company, OÜ BMU Distribution Group.
According to the commercial register, BMU Distribution Group belongs to one Ljubov Domanina, while the company's management board also includes one Maksim Domanin. As of last year, the company had three registered employees. It was founded in 2020.
Neudorf said that Telia is currently analyzing its other TV packages.
"We are of the opinion that only the state can assess the content of TV channels broadcasting in Estonia, taking into account the principles of media freedom. Companies providing TV services cannot act as censors for the content of TV channels," he said.
In the coming weeks, Telia will personally inform all its TV service customers about the upcoming change. Telia has announced that it is currently looking for a replacement for the channels.
Nord Print OÜ owns the rights to broadcast a total of 26 TV channels in Estonia, namely: PBK Estonia, REN TV Estonia, NTV Mir Estonia, Dom Kino Baltic, Carousel, Music in Pervo, Russia: Dachshund in Moscow, Telecom, Telephony, Bank NTV Stiil, NTV Pravo, О !, Poekhali!, KinoMinsk, Nashe Novoe Kino, Rodnoe Kino, Indiiskoyo Kino, KinoKomedia, KinoSeria, КVH TV, М-1 Global, Кukhnaya ТВ, Box TV Plus, and HD Life.
Elisa is also terminating its contract with Nord Print as noted.
Elisa also announced that taking into account the public interest and society's expectations, the company has decided to terminate its contract with Nord Print OÜ, whose channels bundled in Elisa's main package are PBK, REN TV, NTV Mir, Dom Kino and KinoKomedia HD.
In addition, Elisa has issued an inquiry to the Financial Intelligence Unit, in order to obtain more detailed information about a Latvian court decision reported in the media regarding the violation of sanctions imposed by the EU by companies representing Russian TV channels.
"We are definitely waiting for the official position of the competent state authorities on the Latvian court ruling, which would give all Estonian operators a formal code of conduct regarding the termination of the contract, blocking the transmission of channels or withholding payments," Toomas Ili, Elisa's content procurement manager said.
An existing contract will be terminated with two months' notice in accordance with the contract's obligation to give notice. "If the official position of the state is added to this, all operators may be obliged to terminate their contracts earlier," Ili said.
Elisa will personally notify customers of the change. Elisa will also end its transmission of the above channels on April 25.
As reported by ERR News earlier in the month, a court in Lativa fined Baltic Media Alliance (BMA), the owner of another such company which broadcasts Russian television channels in Estonia, as well as in Latvia and Lithuania, over €3 million for non-compliance with sanctions imposed on Russia by the EU.
The decision followed raids in Riga and Tallinn by Latvia's Security Police, the VDD, last Friday, in close cooperation with the Estonian Internal Security Service (ISS). Other, similar raids on BMA have taken place in recent years.
Editor: Roberta Vaino