TALLINN - Tallinn's most recent bi-weekly city council meeting dragged on until 4 a.m. as opposition members attempted to block a measure concerning a new digital television station for the capital.
The Nov. 30 session, which stretched to over 12 hours, was drawn out as deputies voted on 333 separate amendments, filed by the opposition, to the bill which called for a working group to be set up to look into the feasibility of starting the channel. The measure passed despite the tactic.
"The chancellery of the city council had to spend more than a thousand sheets of paper only to make Xerox copies of those amendments, whereas barely ten or so opposition deputies took part in voting," vice chairman of the city council Tarmo Lausing said.
Lausing later told The Baltic Times that the idea for creating such a broadcaster, which was in fact initiated by a member of the opposition Reform Party, stemmed from the lack of locally-focused programming on the nation's three broadcasters.
He said the channel would be to provide a counter-balance to what he sees as domination of media ownership by a small group of people with a right-leaning political stance.
"You could say that the main TV stations and newspapers are owned by the right-wing parties, Reform and Pro-Patria Union, and the left-wing parties don't have their TV channels or newspapers," he said.
Opponents in the city council had earlier raised concerns that a station controlled by the city of Tallinn would simply be a mouthpiece, at the taxpayers' expense, for the Center Party, which controls city hall.
Lausing said that he suspected the opposition would want to stifle a project which would raise the profiles of the civic leaders from the Center Party, though he conceded that the high estimates of the project's costs initially discussed, 30 to 40 million kroons (1.9 - 2.6 million euros), was a legitimate point of concern.