Russian-language TV channels plan cooperation

Estonian Public Broadcasting (ERR) and Latvian Public Service Television (LTV) concluded a cooperative agreement on March 31 to work together towards implementing the collaborating activities to develop Russian-language TV channels in both countries.

Both channels will be independent in their program selection, with focus on local life. However, common interests will be looked for in the areas where co-operation could lead to achieving better results and help save money.

“It goes without saying that the information field that originates from Russia and is created by the Russian-language media in Estonia, Latvia and other Eastern and Central European countries, needs balancing,” said Margus Allikmaa, ERR’s chairman of the board.

“Russian-speaking population in these countries deserves quality journalism that is based on a variety of sources. They also deserve TV programs, which are more closely connected to the local life. Estonia has decided to launch its own Russian-language TV channel and Latvia now has plans to do the same. As the Estonian and Latvian public broadcasting organisations share common objectives, all kind of cooperation that would help to improve the quality of the Russian-language information field, is justified and reasoned.” he said.

The cooperative agreement offers both broadcasters an opportunity to exchange programs and films, train employees and market their channels.

“We’re pleased that we agreed on such important issues as content production and purchasing, as well as personnel training,” said Latvian Public Broadcast’s Chairman of the Board Ivars Belte, adding that the unifying factor in both channels are a common mission and values.

Latvia’s National Electronic Mass Media Council (NEPLP) only made the decision to create a third LTV channel on March 19. It will launch next year.

The launch of ERR’s Russian-language TV channel is scheduled for the end of September.

Source: ERR News

Russian, Belorussian opposition launching TV channel in Estonia

Russian and Belorussian opposition leaders are set to launch a Russian-language TV channel in Estonia, tasked with fighting against Kremlin propaganda in Eastern Europe.

The station will initially air online three times a week, but is planning to expand in April, Delfi reported.

The station is being bankrolled by the Danish government’s MyMedia program.

“ is aimed at people in Russia and the Russian-speaking populations of the Baltic nations, Ukraine and Belarus. The main goal of the people behind the project is to offer propaganda-free information,” Pavel Morozov, one of the founders of the station, said. It is his second attempt at such an idea.

Artemy Troitsky, a Russian music critic who recently moved to Tallinn due to his anti-Kremlin views, is also heavily involved.

ERR, the public broadcaster, has unveiled plans for its own Russian-language television station, which should launch in September.

Source: ERR News via Estonian Review

Interview with DELFI shareholder Hans Luik

One of Estonia’s richest people and shareholder of DELFI, one of the biggest media groups in the Baltics, Hans Luik shares stories about getting into the media industry, doing business in Ukraine and challenges to free media raised by dictatorial governments as well as technological advances.

In 2007, you invested into DELFI and it was quite an expensive purchase – it still is the most expensive media transaction in the Baltic history. Do you consider it a successful investment?

I do indeed. Our company, Ekspress Grupp, was a publisher of magazines and newspapers with no future. We were profitable but not digital. I decided that we’d better take a big loan to dive into the digital future. Nobody knew that we were simultaneously diving into an international financial crisis.

As for today, we have recovered the loan. Meanwhile, I had to bring my personal guarantees and pledge my belongings in order to secure bank loans for the DELFI purchase. But we are number-one digital news company in the Baltics.

It was a forced situation with DELFI in 2007. DELFI belonged to an American fund called Texas Pacific. They had a 5-year investment horizon, and their five years came to an end. So in 2007 they were selling – either to us or our competitors.

There were a lot of interested parties: Norwegians, who started 15 Minutes afterwards, and Finnish publishers. At the time, when we paid over 50 million euros to Texas Pacific, they chose to invest into a real estate company called Washington Mutual. The financial crises began and Washington Mutual went bankrupt with a huge investment from Texas Pacific. It seems that big money made nobody happy in times of crisis…

Last year, the result of Ekspress Grupp was close to 9 million EBITDA profit. So the risk has been worthwile.

It has not been an all-lucky trip. The thing I regret is DELFI Ukraine. We had great expectations and we kept on investing for years. Editors and IT people from Lithuania and Estonia were helping to support DELFI in Kiev. But there is an oligarchic structure of Ukrainian media market with lots of middlemen. For an outsider, it was too hard to gain foothold in the advertising market. We made the hard decision to close down in Kiev.

Talking about innovation, we believe that there will be less direct mail in our postboxes, because it is not very accurately targeted advertising. We want to take information about retail discounts digital, at our new website We already have 60 Lithuanian retailers drawn to our idea.

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Committee demands that mayor repays 113,000 euros

Oversight committee on funding of political parties has issued a precept to Centre Party chairman and Mayor of Tallinn Edgar Savisaar, demanding that he repays 113,000 euros in taxpayer funds used to pay for Savisaar’s ads ahead of local elections in 2013, writes Postimees.

The committee investigated and determined that “Tallinn moves” outdoors ads which featured Savisaar and cost roughly 100,000 euros, a Russian-language TV video clip aired in PBK that cost about 8,500 euros and the ad on opening of Hiiu stadium were actually ads advertising Savisaar.

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Dairy producers launch a new brand to boost sales

Estonian dairy producers have launched a new “Eesti Piim” (“Estonian Milk”) brand that invites people to drink more local milk to alleviate the crisis brought about by the Russian embargo on dairy products.

Märt Riisenberg, chairman of the board of the Commercial Association of Estonian Dairy Producers (EPIKO), said that the effect of the Russian sanctions can be balanced out a little by boosting the sales in the local market. If every consumer drank an extra glass of milk a day, the total milk consumption would grow by 10 percent, or 200 tons. This is comparable to the amount that was previously exported to Russia.

EPIKO’s “Eesti Piim” brand will be made available, initially for three months, in Selver, ETK, Rimi, Maxima, Gross and Comarket stores.

EPIKO currently unites around 80 dairy producers.

Source: ERR News

The ban of quick loan advertising is big loss for media

A plan by the Ministry of Economic Affairs to ban quick and payday loan advertising on television and radio would cost the stations roughly 3.6 million euros, said the Association of Estonian Broadcasters.

Toomas Vara, the head of the association, told Eesti Päevaleht the plan would have an unproportionally large financial effect.

“Banning ads on a legal activity is crazy, instead of regulating the accessibility of loans and measures of fast loan companies,” he said.

Tea Danilov said the bill would infringe on the principle of a free economy, but would benefit consumers.

The bill could be discussed by the government already this week.

Source: ERR News

Estonian companies buying airtime in pro-Kremlin media

Some 150 Estonian enterprises and organizations, including Health Sickness Fund, are advertising their products in pro-Kremlin state media channels such as RTR Rossija which is also available in Estonia, writes Äripäev.

One of the largest advertisers was the Estonian Health Insurance Fund, a state organization. Such advertising is politically tricky because the ads are aired near Vesti, the station’s news programme that broadcasts Moscow’s official views.

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