Opposition Reform Party chairman Hanno Pevkur said on Monday that Tallinn City Government should redirect the €500,000 currently spent annually on purchasing television programs from Russian TV channel PBK to ETV+, ERR's Russian-language channel.
"Reading today's story about ETV+ being unsuccessful in garnering a sufficient audience, it is regrettabble that the Center Party, leading the Tallinn city government, has for years been buying television shows with taxpayer money from PBK, a television program said to be a propaganda channel for the Kremlin, with shows being advertised as informative for citizens but which in reality are Center Party propaganda, which distorts the truth," Pevkur said in a statement issued by the Reform Party.
The party chairman said that this has resulted in the Russian-speaking population being shown a distorted image of Estonia for years, dividing society and pushing people with a native language other than Estonian deeper into isolation.
"This year's Human Development Report also referred to the fact that Estonians and Russians are living in parallel societies and that the problem is getting worse," Pevkur said.
"In 2015, when the Reform-led government decided to allocate money for the creation of the Russian-language TV channel ETV+, one of the arguments [in its favor] was [Estonia's] Russian-speaking population get a channel which would provide objective information, and where the Russian-speaking population could gather their opinions and exchange experiences," the party chairman recalled. He noted that Radio 4, ERR's Russian-language radio station, has done excellent and laudable work, but that television, it is known, is something completely different.
"Dear Jüri Ratas, here is a concrete proposal to you as leader of the Center Party: let your party's acting mayor direct the €500,000 to ETV+," Pevkur said.
"Considering that ETV+'s current budget is less than €2 million, the €500,000 is a big enough sum to help journalists create better programming and increase their audience," he said. "I recently met with ETV+ editor-in-chief Darja Saar, and she said that this money could be used to produce a daily show similar to 'Ringvaade,' along with a weekly Russian-language debate program. Therefore, half a million euros would be a very large and strong addition in support of objective Russian-language media."
Editor: Aili Vahtla