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Estonia/ 5.3 Sector specific legislation  

5.3.7 Mass media

The only publishing house remaining in state property is the state-owned non-profit foundation Kultuurileht, which publishes 13 different cultural and educational periodicals. During the 1990s, the number of cultural weeklies and magazines did not diminish, but the circulation of most went down. Professionally-edited cultural sections are included in two nation-wide dailies and one weekly magazine. Altogether, there are seven nation-wide daily papers with a total circulation of around 219 200. The major part of the media market – both printed and the privately owned electronic media – is presently governed by large Swedish and Norwegian media corporations.

The basic document regulating the audio-visual media in Estonia is the 2010 Law on Media Services (with later technical amendments related to other legislation) with permission for programmes with local coverage, 16 on the basis of a regional licence, 4 were in possession of a national licence, and one was operating on the basis of an international licence. As for television, 14 broadcasters were operating, including the two public service channels and 9 Cable TV networks. The major private TV channels are owned by Swedish and Norwegian companies.

According to the Estonian National Broadcasting Act (2007), the main task of the national broadcasting company is to produce and mediate programmes and organise other activities that contribute to the objectives of the Estonian state as defined by its Constitution, such as:

  • to support the development of the Estonian language and culture;
  • to value the fundaments of the Estonian nation and point at possible dangers;
  • to support social integration;
  • to support the economy and competitiveness;
  • to support the development of democratic rule;
  • to inform the public about the need for environment-friendly and sustainable development;
  • to value the social model based on family;
  • to contribute to the audio-visual documentation of Estonian history and culture;
  • to guarantee access for all to information needed for free self-enactment; and
  • to produce primarily informational, cultural, educational and entertainment programmes.

The national broadcasting company's main financing comes from allocations from the state budget. They are planned in advance for a period of three years according to a development strategy approved by the Parliament.

The Broadcasting Act applies to all broadcasters established in Estonia. The quotas in the current Act regulate:

  • the share of national production: a broadcaster shall ensure that at least 10% of the monthly transmission time of the programme service, excluding the time appointed to news, sports events, games, advertising, teleshopping, and teletext services is filled by national productions. A broadcaster shall transmit at least 50% of the minimum amount of its national production during prime broadcasting time between 19h00 and 23h00;
  • a minimum share of European production equal to 51% of the transmission time (with the same conditions above); and
  • the share of works by producers independent of the broadcaster itself must be over 10%.

Chapter published: 13-10-2014

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