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Minister expects ERR to submit plan to strengthen Russian-language channel

ERR's Russian-language TV channel, ETV+, has been on air since the second half of 2016.
ERR's Russian-language TV channel, ETV+, has been on air since the second half of 2016. Source: (Rene Suurkaev / ERR)

Minister of Health and Labour Jevgeni Ossinovski (SDE) said that the management of public broadcaster ERR should submit proposals how to strengthen Russian-language television channel ETV+. If needed, the topic should also be discussed by the government or in parliament.

"I think that this is a question for the leadership of ERR, what their proposals are for the ways in which public broadcasting in Russian could be strengthened. Are additional assets needed for this, and what are the new ideas? I think that these should be discussed on the governmental level, and why not also on the parliamentary level," Ossinovski said responding to a question asked during question time in the Riigikogu on Wednesday.

"Politicians of course won't interfere in program creation," Ossinovski said, but added that in strategic matters he would expect the public broadcaster's management to contribute ideas.

Ossinovski said that the government was right to add ETV+ to ERR's channels, but that now a closer look is needed to see how far the new channel's goals had actually been met.

"It is definitely justified and logical for the public to have the expectation that I also share entirely, namely that the Estonian state should have a channel through the public broadcaster," Ossinovski said, referring to the choice of TV channels available to Russian-speakers.

Ossinovski faced questions by the opposition concerning authorities' decision to run public service ads on Russian state TV channel Perviy Baltiski Kanal (PBR). Both Ossinovski as well as Prime Minister Jüri Ratas (Center) have previously pointed to the fact that the market share of ETV+ is still relatively small, and that to reach the majority of Estonia's Russian-speaking population, authorities had decided to work with media packages that included PBK.

Regarding the performance of ETV+, Ossinovski said that it was time to get an overview how well the channel has been run.

"I think that it is relevant to ask today, several years later, how these initially set aims have been reached. The Estonian public has justifiably asked the question why the Russian-speaking part of ERR is not able to bring information to people to the same extent and as effectively," he said.

"We have to admit that we are in a situation where [ETV+] is not yet meeting its objectives to the extent that it should be. And I think that it is a challenge for the management of ERR to determine what should be done differently to change things. I would prefer a situation where the channel you mentioned would not have to be used for the purpose of public notifications by the state," Ossinovski said referring to PBK.

Editor: Dario Cavegn

Source: ERR, BNS

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