In their editorials on Wednesday, Estonian daily newspapers Postimees and Eesti Päevaleht both criticized the Consumer Protection and Technical Regulatory Authority's (TTJA) desire to add a requirement to monitor the truthfulness, impartiality and balance of news programs to the Media Services Act.
"Who is going to assess news programs and how? Will there be a 'truth commission' to ensure the 'truthful presentation of facts and events'?" asks Postimees. "Classic [writers] such as George Orwell have also referred to a 'Ministry of Truth,' and this is inherent to a totalitarian social order."
Postimees also pointed out that the self-regulation of the Estonian media is built on a bedrock of journalistic ethics and the provision of rebuttals and corrections when necessary.
"We recall, that the threat of over-regulating the Media Services Act was already present during the previous Riigikogu. Now a new attempt is being made, fueled by the initiators' lack of understanding of media freedom," Postimees said.
In its Wednesday editorial, Eesti Päevaleht said, that the Estonian press does not need state control.
"Raising the VAT on press publications, the inability of state postal company Omniva to organize the distribution of periodicals to a high standard and at an affordable price... the situation for free Estonian journalism can't get any worse, can it? Unbelievably, it can," says the editorial.
"We believe that these three episodes of harassment of the press are not interconnected or systemic. However, they do demonstrate the attitude of state agencies, officials and politicians towards free speech," the daily concludes.
"We are convinced that Estonia does not need a law like this."
Editor: Mchael Cole