Facing a new wave of criticism before the local elections, Tallinna Televisioon (TTV) is trying to shake off the image of the Center Party's mouthpiece. According to its new CEO, Revo Raudjärv, the station no longer has any political affiliations, and is gearing its programming towards sports and city life.
Tallinn has had its own TV station since January 2011. Introduced by mayor Edgar Savisaar (Center) before his suspension from office, the station has repeatedly faced criticism for toeing the party line and acting as one of the mouthpieces of the Center Party.
In 2016 it also became embroiled in several smaller and larger scandals. In December the station's CEO, Toomas Lepp, resigned after accusations that he had embezzled city money. One of the station's editors and a member of its management, Mart Ummelas, was suspended.
Kristen Michal: TTV to be closed down if Reform wins Tallinn elections
The Reform Party's candidate for mayor of Tallinn in this year's local elections, Kristen Michal, has been straightforward about his party's plans should they win in October.
Michal said that he would close down the station along with the city's other publications the day he took over, and that by closing them he didn’t mean in the sense of just their legal issues, but in the sense of closing their editors’ offices. The consensus among all of the parties opposing the current city government is to put an end to the Center Party's clientele politics in the capital, and to eradicate any direct connection between the party and the city's various companies and publications.
Facing this latest wave of criticism, Tallinna TV now announced to scale back the station's political coverage. Among other things it would begin to broadcast games of Estonia's U-21 football team in addition to cup games.
No longer the Center Party's mouthpiece
The station's CEO, Revo Raudjärv, said that Tallinna TV was now free of the Center Party's dictate in terms of news and political programming. The new football broadcasts would be arranged in cooperation with the Estonian Football Association at no cost to TTV, Raudjärv added.
The station is also in negotiations regarding several other sports events, including the season's main running events. Efforts were mainly directed at popular sports for now, though naturally they would also try to get top-class sports events covered, Raudjärv said.
A new entertainment format was introduced last week, when Suvestuudio (Summer Studio), a new talk show, aired for the first time. The show had received very good ratings and would be continued through the season, including interviews with former president Arnold Rüütel, musicians Jaan Tätte, Jaagup Kreem, and Ivo Linna, and other popular people in public life, Raudjärv added.
As Raudjärv stresses, the station has moved away from promoting the political views of the Center Party, which the guests reflected quite well. "Politicians of all parties are coming to our studio, Siim Kallas, Andres Anvelt, Marko Mihkelson, Artur Talvik, Kristiina Ojuland, Mart Helme, Juku-Kalle Raid, Indrek Tarand, and others. We've had interviews with Hanno Pevkur, Helir-Valdor Seeder, Aivar Sõerd, and others," Raudjärv said.
If Center Party politicians still tended to show a lot on TTV's programs, this had to do with the fact that the city government was run by the party, not with an editorial choice to the effect. The party's former long-time chairman and now suspended mayor of Tallinn, Edgar Savisaar, reportedly declined giving interviews to the station's journalists, no longer showing any personal preference for the station founded on his initiative.
Editor: Dario Cavegn