Estonians to buy out Norwegians in biggest-ever Estonian media deal

Estonian media company Eesti Meedia that belongs to listed Norwegian media conglomerate Schibsted is preparing a management buyout, writes Äripäev.

By one source, the sales price of Eesti Meedia could be the price of Kroonspress printing business that in 2012 had revenue of 36 million euros.

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Estonia 13th in press freedom

Estonia has climbed from 22nd to 13th in this year’s Freedom House press freedom index. Latvia was ranked 55th and Lithuania was at 40th, while Russia was 176th.

Norway and Sweden are the most press-friendly nations.  The annual Freedom of the Press report, compiled by the US-based NGO, measures the level of freedom and editorial independence enjoyed by the press in 197 nations and territories.

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Estonia is one of the freest countries

Freedom House, an organisation based in New York in the United States, has once again placed Estonia among the most free countries in its list of world political and human liberties. Freedom House gives out points from one to seven regarding political rights and civil liberties. The countries that were given one point in each category are the freest and those that were given seven points have the smallest liberties.

Estonia, along with most countries of the European Union, received one point for both political rights and civil liberties. Estonia received exactly the same assessment last year.

There were 195 countries on the list this year. In the opinion of Freedom House there were 90 free, 58 partly free, and 47 non-free countries in the world last year. Freedom House finds that 43% of the world population live in free countries; 23% live in partly free and 34% of the world population live in non-free countries.

Compared with last year’s table Lesotho, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Tonga have risen from among partly free countries into the list of free countries. The Ivory Coast, Egypt and Libya climbed from among non-free countries to among partly free countries. Mali made the biggest fall from among free countries into the list of non-free countries. Guinea-Bissau fell from a partly free country into a non-free country.

In accordance with Freedom House a free country has open political competition, an atmosphere of the respect of human rights, significantly independent civil life and independent media.

In a partly free country respect of political rights and civil liberties is limited, a partly free country often has a high level of corruption, weak respect for laws, an atmosphere of ethnic and religious hatred, and one force dominates on the political landscape despite the existence of several parties. In a non-free country there are no basic political rights and civil liberties are violated widely and systematically.

Source: Esatonian Review

Fremantle buys rights to Estonian TV series

Balti Video that produced a hugely popular Estonian TV series Kättemaksukontor has sold rights to the series to international TV producer FremantleMedia Ltd.

It is the first Estonian TV series that has become so successful.

FremantleMedia that has produced such best-selling shows as Idol, X Factor, Got Talent, The Farmer wants a wife, Hole in a Wall, etc.

It has not been said how much such a transaction costs.

Balti Video ended 2011 with revenue of EUR 2.2m.

Fremantle is owned by RTL Group and has revenues of more than EUR 1 billion. It’s the world’s leading TV show producer and produces 9,200 hours of programming a year.

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Estonia’s best m-service

The Information System Authority (RIA) on Wednesday named a mobile application of Estonian Public Broadcasting (ERR) the country’s best m-service. The application, which allows users to watch and listen live to all TV and radio programmes and access the broadcaster’s archive, was developed in co-operation by ERR, Finestmedia, and Helmes, RIA said. In addition to live broadcasts and archived materials, the application offers daily news in Estonian, Russian and English and programming schedules.

Jury member Katri Ristal said the ERR application won the competition because it is user-friendly and enables users to keep abreast of daily news and use the Estonian audiovisual archive regardless of their location.

The winner in the commerce and business category was Qminder, a mobile application for remote queuing that makes the service process substantially more comfortable. In the category of health and environment MOBO, an orienteering application developed by Tak R&D, was declared the winner.

By way of exception, several applications were named as the best in the category of culture and education. The jury’s pick was applications by Walk & Learn that provide study material on nature.

In all 44 domestic m-services participated in the five categories of the competition initiated by RIA. The eight-member jury consisting of experts from various fields of life evaluated the entries by their functionality, user-friendliness, aesthetic quality, safety, and marketing and social potential.

Source: Estonian Review

Revenues of daily Postimees grow 11 pct

Revenues of the Estonian media company AS Postimees, a holding of the Norwegian Schibsted group, totaled 11.4 million euros last year, up by 11 percent compared to the year-earlier 10.29 million euros.

The profit of the company was 450,000 euros compared to 154,000 euros in 2010.

Advertising income made up 5.4 million euros of the revenue. The income from subscription declined by about 1 percent in annual comparison to 5.07 million euros, it appears from the annual report.

The average print run of Postimees was 57,350 copies, down by 1.4 percent year-on-year. Data of the polling company TNS Emor show that the readership of all dailies decreased by around 8 percent in 2011, the company observes. Postimees had an average of 186,000 readers daily last year. The Russian-language version of the daily had 51,000 readers on the average, figures provided by TNS Emor show. The online news sites of Postimees had an audience of 850,000 at the end of last year, up by 20 percent from 2010.

The paper’s direct variable expenses (newsprint, printing, delivery) totaled 4.96 million euros in 2011, making up 44.6 percent of all expenses. Outlays on personnel (pay, extras, taxes) together with training expenses made up 3.59 million euros or 32.3 percent of total expenses. Payroll costs together with the social tax grew to 3.53 million euros from the year-earlier 2.93 million euros and the number of employees rose to 186 from 163 in 2010.

The sum total of expenses increased by 8.1 percent to 10.95 million euros.

Source: Estonian Review

National Geographic to be published in Estonian

One of the world’s biggest non-profit scientific and educational organizations, the National Geographic
Society, said that the official magazine of the society, National Geographic, would be published in Estonian starting from this October.

The Estonian version of the National Geographic will be brought out on the basis of a National Geographic Society license; its contents will be based on the English original and it will have the
same format and the same distinctive front cover in a yellow frame. The magazine will be published by AlmaliEst, a subsidiary of the Lithuanian publishing house Alma Litera.

Erkki Peetsalu, the Estonian editor-in-chief of the National Geographic, has operated 20 years on the local media and communications scene. He is a journalism graduate from Tartu University. In the recent years he has contributed to initiatives promoting development of the civic society and awareness of the
environment.

The National Geographic, which was first published in 1888 in English, prints articles on culture, nature, science and technology. The magazine has 60 million readers throughout the world. Estonia is the 33rd local language in which the magazine will be published.

Source: Estonian Review

National TV lost viewers

According to the new TNS Emor survey, ETV accounted for only 10.6% in TV viewership, down from 16% in May and from 15.4% a year ago.

Warm weather, lack of own programming and a large number of cultural events could have been the reasons that reduced TV viewership in June.

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Discounts and Darwinism

In pre-crisis Estonia a discount was almost a foreign concept. Ten percent off might be given, but then only, it sometimes seemed, if you were a blood relative of the business owner or had once saved his life in an armed conflict. 

Now, around 25 deal-of-the-day websites are bringing the discount culture to the market with discounts of up to 75 percent off regular prices. But how much discounting can one tiny market endure?

Seeds in America

It all started with Groupon, a portmanteau derived from “group coupon.” The US company was founded in 2008 to offer daily internet discounts of up to 90 percent on goods and services. And it’s been well received by consumers: the financial media has speculated that Groupon will set a new speed record for hitting a billion dollars in gross sales.

It was Cherry.ee who first brought the product to Estonia, albeit with a model modified for local market conditions. Cherry’s marketing director Martin Kõiva says his company tries to keep the average discount at 50 percent. Discounts are rarely less than that, unless the product or service is “something big,” as Kõiva characterizes it. 

Something big would be direct flights on Estonian Air, which have been offered through Cherry at a 40-percent discount. Discounts in Estonia don’t routinely approach the American 90 percent, though sometimes they do stretch to 75 percent. 

The broker’s commission also differs from the American version. “Groupon always takes 50 percent,” said Kõiva, “and ours is a lot less.” In the deal-of-the-day model, website operators earn money only when their clients’ products sell. Ingvar Kupinski, CEO of Cherry’s competitor Deal24, a German-backed venture in Estonia, says 20 to 25 percent is the average commission in Estonia. “And it’s less in Latvia, and in Lithuania even less than that.”

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Four news websites to be merged

Estonia’s largest locally-owned media group Ekspress Grupp, publisher of Eesti Ekspress weekly, Maaleht weekly, Eesti Päevaleht daily and Delfi online news, will bring all its content production under one roof.

Among others, the company will set up a central newsroom, embracing the editorial staff of all Ekspress-owned publications. The journalists will all be working together at the offices of Eesti Päevaleht by early summer.

However, all the editorial offices will formally continue as autonomous entities under their own editors-in-chief.

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