Tallinn mayor Mihhail Kõlvart (Centre) says that while the decision to close down Tallinn Television (TTV) as a broadcasting channel was not easy, it was needed in order to make savings. About half of TTV's staff is to be made redundant, Baltic News Service reports. Tallinn TV runs content about the capital city as its name suggests, but is broadcast nationwide. While it will cease broadcasting, it will continue to produce content which will be distributed via other channels.
The mayor made the announcement Thursday, the day after Tallinn City Government's budget strategy for the next four years had been announced.
TTV will continue as a production company, just not as a TV channel, he said.
"At the same time, we know that TTV is not the best tool for spreading news. If we look at the ratings, we also do not see the perspective for it to continue as a television channel," he added, BNS reports.
He also said that the move had been under consideration for a few months.
"The objective of such a decision is efficiency and saving. In cooperation with private channels, both online media as well as other television channels, we will be able to spread the necessary information much better," he said.
The mayor also said it would not be possible to build up a new structure within a few weeks.
"This takes time, and the new system is to start operations from the new year. This means that TTV will continue to produce news, but we will broadcast this via other channels," he said, noting that it would be operating online.
Kõlvart also said that the changes would save up to half of TTV's annual budget of around €4.5 million, with about half its employees being made redundant and receiving redundancy packages.
Aivar Riisalu, chair of TTV's supervisory board, said he was on the same wavelength as the mayor.
"The price versus contacts with the public was moderate, to put it mildly," Riisalu said., according to BNS, emphasizing that very practical figures were behind the closure decision and expressing the hope that the rest of the supervisory board would go along.
One board member, Taavi Pukk, agreed closing TTV was the best possible route for spreading information about the capital.
"Television costs a lot, including being free-to-air," Pukk said, according to BNS.
TTV is scheduled to stop broadcasting on Oct. 1.
"Of course, this means the review of a number of contracts. We will definitely fulfill all obligations to partners. We hope that this process will go smoothly for us," Pukk added, saying that TTV will emerge as an effective partner to the City of Tallinn in producing video content.
Launched in 2011, TTV has faced criticism from those who say it is nothing more than a mouthpiece for the Centre Party, and part of the legacy of party co-founder and former Tallinn mayor Edgar Savisaar, subject of an ongoing corruption trial from 2017.
Media reports in the summer had already suggested redundancies were imminent and that the channel might cease broadcasting, though not until 2020.
The channel has transmitters in Pärnu, Põlva County, Ida-Viru County and Saaremaa, as well as Tallinn. By some estimates its market share is less than 1 percent in Estonia.
Editor: Andrew Whyte