Estonian state buys air time for ID card ads on Kremlin propaganda channel ({{commentsTotal}})

Screen still of the ad that appeared on RTR.
Screen still of the ad that appeared on RTR. Source: (ERR)

The police and the Information System Authority (RIA) bought air time on Kremlin-controlled Russian TV channel RTR for a TV ad calling on ID card holders to update their security certificates.

The Police and Border Guard (PPA) and the Information System Authority (RIA) have been running the campaign together. It asks all those who hold Estonian ID cards with chips that could potentially be affected by a serious security flaw to update their digital security certificates.

This campaign has appeared on Russian TV channel RTR as well, notorious for its repeated appearance in the Internal Security Service's yearbook as a channel generally "hostile" towards Estonia. Not only does this mean that the logos of PPA and RIA appeared on Russian television, but also that the Estonian state paid for the air time of the ad.

As PPA's head of communications, Kirsti Ruul, explained to ERR on Tuesday, RIA along with PPA commissioned the campaign with the message to renew digital certificates. The campaign was directed at the Estonian as well as the Russian-speaking population, and as the cards with potential security flaws included residence permits as well, reaching the Russian-speaking target group was important.

The campaign appeared in Estonia in November, first outdoors and in print, later on online as well as on radio and TV as well.

"Looking back at the media plan we realized that RTR was really on it as well," Ruul said. But the media company taking care of the job had offered RTR as part of a package to reach the Russian-speakers, and the same spot had aired on ERR's ETV, ETV2 and ETV+ channels.

"I honestly have to admit that in September I didn't notice RTR on the list of channels. I would certainly have turned the media company's attention to the fact that the Estonian state doesn't want to buy air time on Russian state TV channels," Ruul said.

How much taxpayer money RTR eventually received Ruul couldn't say. "The total cost of the campaign including VAT was €85,400, which included preparing the materials, the work of the ad agency, and the ad space and air time," she explained, adding that RTR's share in this couldn't be more than a few percent.

Preparations for the campaign were made in cooperation with RIA, who also paid for the campaign.

A lot of companies doing business in Estonia advertise on Russian channels, as well as the city of Tallinn, which has worked with them for years.

Editor: Dario Cavegn

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