Private channels Kanal 2 and TV3 are both leaving free-to-air (FTA) broadcasting as of Aug. 1, leaving tens of thousands of viewers to either go without their programming or sign up for a paid operator subscription.
Estonian media group Eesti Meedia AS decided that Kanal 2 will leave free-to-air (FTA) broadcasting effective Aug. 1. The change will only affect customers who receive their signal by FTA transmission; it will not impact subscribing operator customers.
Kanal 2 will remain available via the MUX1 network, which has the largest coverage in Estonia. Customers receiving their signal by FTA transmission can subscribe to a TV service with Starman ZuumTV, Viasat or Telia or choose another suitable cable operator.
Eesti Meedia CEO Sven Nuutmann said that the Estonian television market needs structural changes and TV advertising prices must begin to rise. "The current situation, in which TV advertising prices have been pushed unreasonably low as a result of media agencies' activity is no longer sustainable," he said. "The only possibility for maintaining programming based on local own productions is by optimizing the functioning of the channel."
Hanno Tomberg, content and program director at Eesti Meedia, said that everyone who can currently watch Kanal 2 can continue to do so if they choose a suitable TV operator.
"We will continue to be available in the basic packages of all operators and in the future will also be able to offer better quality in HD, which currently reaches only paying customers," he noted.
"Kanal 2, the most watched TV channel in Estonia, will kick off its fall season at the beginning of September already, offering many new programs, the best entertainment and sequels to programs and series that have become a hit with viewers," Tomberg highlighted. "Funding previously used for transmission that will become available for programming will enable us to produce broadcasts which attract viewers even more."
Next February, Kanal 2 and Kanal 12 will broadcast the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, which is why the broadcaster wants to make sure that everyone is able to watch the big sports event.
Kanal 11, another Eesti Meedia-owned TV channel, had already left FTA broadcasting and has been increasing its viewer numbers ever since.
According to various estimates, 10-12 percent of viewers in Estonia watch FTA television exclusively. About 90 percent of the population, meanwhile, subscribes to service from Telia, Starman, STV, Viasat or other operators and will not be affected by the forthcoming change.
TV3 also to leave FTA
A few hours later, rival channel TV3 likewise announced that it would leave FTA broadasting as of Aug. 1.
Priit Leito, head of TV3, has declined to comment to BNS regarding the reasons behind the decision.
Tiit Tammiste, CEO of the FTA transmission service provider Levira, said that they expect new channels to go FTA, helping to fill the gap that will be left by Kanal 2 and TV3.
Editor: Aili Vahtla