Following remarks made by Minister of the Interior Mart Helme (EKRE) according to which the state could come up with enough money to increase first responder wages if it partially privatized Estonian Public Broadcasting (ERR), Minister of Culture Tõnis Lukas (Isamaa) responded that he is awaiting an Interior Ministry analysis regarding the matter.
"In order to avoid the construction of some new Television Building for around €60 million, we should start scaling back the entire ERR group instead," Helme said in an interview with Tallinn TV on Sunday. "Privatize Raadio Tallinn, privatize Raadio 2, privatize ETV2, privatize ETV+, and keep only Vikerraadio, Klassikaraadio, and ETV."
He also said that the state should review the needs of the broadcaster's existing buildings.
"If we take this comparison as an example, that the construction of a new television and radio building would cost approximately €60 million — renovating the old building would cost only €7 million," Helme said, adding that with this money, an additional €14 million per year, the state could increase the wages of police officers and rescue workers.
Lukas told ERR on Monday that he had seen no such analyses that would indicate that high-enough quality studios could be built in ERR's existing buildings at a cost of just €7 million in renovations.
"Thus far, the Ministry of Culture has handled ERR-related matters, and if anyone has more exact analyses, then perhaps I can comment on them," the culture minister said. "I'll first wait for the Ministry of the Interior's analysis, then, regarding why these particular parts of ERR should be privatized, and then we can talk. I'll wait for the analysis of the Ministry of the Interior, which has taken this over from the Ministry of Culture."
ERR requires sufficient funds, facilities
Asked whether ERR has succeeded in fulfilling the duties it has set for itself, Lukas responded, "As long as a substantial portion of the people of Estonia watch, acknowledge and listen to ERR, it has fulfilled that duty, and I believe that is the case today.
"ERR's duty in Estonian culture is diverse and multifaceted — it is creating and delivering Estonian-language visual and audiovisual content to the people," Lukas continued. "To ensure this requires a credible, critical mass of both funding as well as facilities and gear with which to do this in high quality. As far as I understand it, this is ERR's duty in our country — to guarantee at all times the production, preservation and broadcasting of high-quality, Estonian-language audio and visual culture. This role cannot be forgotten when making simple economic suggestions or proposals based on impressions like this."
The winning design for ERR's new Television Building, which will be situated between the current Radio Building and News Building in Central Tallinn, was unveiled this April. ERR hopes to launch operations in the new building by 2023.
The new Television Building is expected to serve as the site of some 420 jobs.
Editor: Aili Vahtla