Estonia Political Orientation
MBFC’s Country Freedom Rating: 89.66 – Mostly Free
World Press Freedom Rank: Estonia 8/180
The Press Freedom Index compiled by Reporters Without Borders (RSF) shows Estonia Ranked 8th out of 180 countries. Despite the high ranking, according to Reporters Without Borders, the hostility and verbal attacks toward journalists expressed by Members of the government continue to escalate. RSF is also concerned that the state broadcaster is subject to threats to reduce its funding due to its critical reporting.
Media Ownership and Government Analysis
Television is Estonia’s most popular medium. The Government does not subsidize media in Estonia except for public broadcasting (PSM), which is “financed from the state budget, and no advertising is allowed.” The Independence of PSM governance and funding (scores low risk, 17%) that the Estonian Public Broadcasting Act regulates.”
The Estonian Public Broadcaster (ERR) is overseen by the Public Broadcasting Council (RHN), whose members are four media experts and one representative from each parliamentary faction that Parliament elects. Eesti Television and Eesti Raadio are also public broadcasters. For more on the public broadcasting act and the process of the appointments of the board, please see here.
Two media corporations dominate the media market: the Ekspress Group1 and Postimees Grupp. Providence Equity Partners privately own TV3, while Kanal 2 is owned by AS Postimees Grupp. The country’s leading newspaper is the right-leaning Postimees, and its owner is Margus Linnamae. The other newspaper is Õhtuleht, owned by Ekspress Grupp and Schibsted.
In Estonia, libel is not criminalized; however, Defamation is a criminal offense that causes intimidation and self-censorship among journalists. The Government has minimal direct control over the media outlets since most are privately owned and financed. However, a populist far-right political party known by its acronym EKRE (The Conservative People’s Party of Estonia) leader calls its political opponents’ names such as “pink slime.” Furthermore, in 2019, the head of the EKRE Party called for all journalists “at public broadcasters who displayed ‘prejudices’ against his party to be sacked.” This rhetoric intimidated journalists.
As of now, the press of Estonia remains primarily free. However, the rise of far-right populist parties like EKRE worries journalists and causes them to self-censor.
Last Updated on May 12, 2023 by Media Bias Fact Check
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