TALLINN - The Estonian Association of Media Enterprises on Monday submitted a complaint to the European Commission with regard to what it deems unhealthy competition in the form of the state-funded public broadcaster ERR.
The media enterprises' complaint primarily concerns the funding of ERR's online news media from the state budget, representatives of the association told BNS on Monday. According to the media enterprises' association, this is not the legal obligation of ERR and instead causes unfair competition in the media market.
As to online news media production, competition is sufficient between private online portals, making intervention by the state unwarranted and harmful to fair competition. Private news portals relay a large variety of news rapidly, professionally and independently.
"ERR has never published any newspapers due to the media landscape functioning very well in this area with the private sector's contribution. It is the same with news portals, where competition is also very strong. News portals are the successors of newspapers, in essence," head of the Estonian Association of Media Enterprises Merle Viirmaa-Treifeldt said.
The media market over the past years has been rapidly developing towards a business model in which revenues from digital subscriptions account for an increasing proportion of total revenue, motivating members of the association to preserve and create new rightfully remunerated journalist positions. ERR strongly expanding its online media with the support of state financing aggravates unfair competition with private media as the private sector will never be able to compete with the state at such a level.
Maintaining a media industry based on free and fair competition is necessary for preserving the variety and independence of the media landscape. Media enterprises that are financially sound cannot be manipulated by politicians or business communities. In a situation where democratic values are under pressure in various European states, it is important to acknowledge that it is private media that ensures that the information available to the public should not only come from public bodies and interest groups.
The Estonian Association of Media Enterprises is an organization operating in the common interests of media channels. The association's members include newspapers, magazines, portals and television and radio channels.