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Janek Luts: Buying ads from PBK lends legitimacy to channel's other content

A Russian-language Estonia 100 ad.
A Russian-language Estonia 100 ad. Source: (Estonia 100)

Private media channels buying ads from the Russian-language First Baltic Channel (PBK) is understandable, but state agencies doing so just lends legitimacy to Kremlin propaganda, said former ETV+ development manager Janek Luts.

Tallinn city government has bought content from Russian television channels. Estonian state agencies, however, have bought ads from the same channels as well. For example, PBK is currently running an ad for a Rescue Board information campaign, and this summer, the station also ran official Estonia 100 ads as well, reported ETV news broadcast "Aktuaalne kaamera."

This week on "Aktuaalne kaamera," Tallinn mayor Taavi Aas (Center) recommended that the Estonian state buy programs on PBK, but as it turns out, a least some state agencies have also bought ads to be run on the channel as well.

For example, a Rescue Board's ad promoting fire safety is run in Russian on PBK as well, as many apartment fires occur in Ida-Viru County and Tallinn.

PBK also aired an official Estonia 100 ad as well, however, which called on viewers to give gifts in honor of the country's upcoming centennial.

"We have always enlisted the help of the best advertising specialists," said Estonia 100 marketing and communications director Kristo Mäe. "Our message must reach all the people of Estonia, and the 100th birthday of the Republic of Estonia is a celebration for all the people of Estonia."

 While the total price tag of the campaign was €80,000, just €4,000 went toward paying for advertising on PBK; other channels also ran the Russian-language content. Inspired was the advertising agency in charge of planning the ad campaign for Estonia 100.

"In our opinion, this helps to promote the integration of Russians [in Estonia], and if we want everyone to know that it's our birthday and we are proud of this message, then we see no conflict in wanting to send the same message to Russians," explained Inspired Universal McCann communcations director Marleen Taremaa. "And I believe that this message is so solid that actually no such context will ruin it."

It is mostly private companies that buy ads on Russian-language channels. Telia, for example, told "Aktuaalne kaamera" that their purchases of such ads are based on an analysis of viewership and ad costs.

Former ETV+ development manager Janek Luts, who has a background in journalism, noted that it was understandable for private media channels to purchase ads from Russian channels, however state agencies' activities are lending legitimacy to Kremlin propaganda. In his opinion, it would be worth asking the Riigikogu or the Estonian government why such outreach is being done.

"How credible is a country, then, who must buy outreach in such a way from the channels of a hostile state, to put it mildly?" Luts asked. "In doing this, we are lending legitimacy to other information on this channel."

Editor: Aili Vahtla

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