A Riigikogu committee is looking from a legal perspective at potential solutions to finding the required funding for a new TV house to be used by public broadcaster ERR. This may include the use of Cultural Endowment of Estonia (Kultuurikapital) funds.
While the planned TV house cannot be included on a Cultural Endowment of Estonia (Kultuurkapital) list of nationally important items, currently numbering five, there may nevertheless be scope for obtaining funds from that body, the committee finds.
The development follows a meeting involving the body, the Riigikogu Cultural Affairs Committee, and representatives of the public broadcaster, over where the €65 million required to build the new TV house, to replace the current site on Gonsiori in central Tallinn, will come from.
ERR board chair Erik Roose told "Aktuaalne kaamera" that: "Since we granted the money allocated to us from the state budget a few years ago to [instead] cover the costly National Library (Rahvusraamatukogu, undergoing extensive refurbishments – ed.), the return mechanism could come via the Cultural Endowment of Estonia."
"Here, the construction of five important cultural objects has been somewhat delayed, for one reason or another. Cultural Endowment of Estonia has the corresponding sums to hand, and ERR is the object which is furthest along [with progress on its project] in the whole country; we could start the construction procurement process tomorrow, or the day after tomorrow," Roose went on.
However, Cultural Endowment of Estonia funds are set aside for cultural objects of national importance, a list which the new TV house would not make.
Roose made his remarks after meeting with the Riigikogu committee, and said that the committee, in conjunction with Cultural Endowment of Estonia chief Margus Allikmaa, the five nationally key cultural objects, including the national library, have been examined alongside the planned ERR TV house.
Roose said that the ball was now in the Cultural Endowment's court, adding the latter should go to the big hall, meaning the Riigkogu's main chamber, to propose the planned TV house be added as a sixth object.
"This is a political decision. I have also told the minister of culture, at a meeting, that funding from the state budget is also amenable to me, but the objective situation is this: The state budget is tight, while the Cultural Endowment of Estonia alone has money which can solely be used on cultural objects," Roose said.
Chair of the Riigkogu culture committee Heljo Pikhof (SDE) told ERR after the meeting that the TV house becoming the sixth Cultural Endowment of Estonia-listed object would not come to fruition, on the grounds that the existing five objects are listed as a result of a competitive process.
However, the committee is looking at different potential legal options for the TV house to utilize Cultural Endowment of Estonia funds in any case, Pikhof said, adding that the Riigikogu's legal analysis department was doing just that.
"As a lawyer, I say that this possibility exists," she added.
Other committee members present at the meeting were in favor of the TV house, with only the financial means whereby resulting in differing opinions.
Essentially, either the Cultural Endowment of Estonia or the state budget are the two options; private funding or external funding was not an option, she added.
Margus Allikmaa, who was not present at the committee's decision-making, told ERR that current law allows the Cultural Endowment of Estonia to finance only cultural objects that are on the list of nationally important cultural objects. "However, I hope that the Riigikogu and the culture committee will certainly be able to find a simple solution on how to finance the construction of the ERR television complex, from the Cultural Endowment of Estonia [funds]," Allikmaa told AK.
Minister of Culture Heidy Purga (Reform) had told ERR in June that a new TV house was vital, given the situation with the current site.
"ERR's TV complex is in such a critical state that if something were to happen there now, who would take responsibility?" she said.
Tallinn City Government in May established the detailed plan for ERR's new TV house, which will see a TV house and complex erected on the site of the current parking lot between the Radio House, on Gonsiori, and the News House (or the Old Radio House as it is sometimes known), on Kreutzwaldi.
Design work by Kadarik Tüür Arhitektid OÜ's, whose "Roheline lina" design won the tender in 2019, has been on hold while the search for funding, slowed up further still by the Covid pandemic, went on.
The new TV house construction cost is estimated at €65 million.
Margus Allikmaa is a previous board chair of ERR.
Editor: Andrew Whyte, Mari Peegel