ETV to go commercial-free

  • 2002-06-27
  • Aleksei Gunter, TALLINN
Estonia's television ad market is about to shift dramatically after a government decision to make Eesti Television (ETV), Estonia's only public channel, commercial-free beginning July 1.

Kanal 2, TV3 - both private Estonian channels broadcast nationwide - and ORT, the Russian channel broadcast in Estonian and Latvia, will likely share 25 million kroons ($1.51 million) in ad revenue scheduled to be paid to ETV by advertisers from July through December.

Urmas Oru, director of Kanal 2, said ad prices might also increase across the board because the large discounts offered by ETV would be gone.

According to analysts from the polling company Emor, the volume of the overall television advertising market would likely decrease because of the government decision but they say it is too early to estimate the losses.

May 2002 brought record ad sales of 7 million kroons to ETV thanks to the Eurovision Song Contest. From January to June 2002, ETV earned 30 million kroons on ad revenue, excluding money received from ads shown during the final show of the song contest. Last year revenues were 54 million kroons.

Independent media analyst Raul Rebane told the daily newspaper Eesti Paevaleht that the TV channels will likely raise ad rates.

"That would obviously eliminate smaller players from the TV advertising market and make commercials shorter than they presently are," he said.

ETV's audience share currently stands at 25 percent.

The Ministry of Culture and the National Broadcasting Council recently applied for 195 million kroons in additional funding for ETV but were turned down by the Parliament's Finance Committee.

ETV and state-owned Eesti Radio currently receive 170 million kroons in funding from the government.

The broadcasting council said it needed the money for facility upgrades, programming development and as compensation for lost advertising revenue.

"That kind of increase would be too much," said committee chairman Meelis Atonen.