The competition for Russian-speaking TV-watcher information space reached new heights as Baltic Media Alliance Estonia (BMA) CEO Irina Kozyrenko set forth a fresh idea – instead of creating a new Russian language state channel, why not produce content for the money and sell the programmes to Pervyj Baltijskij Kanal (PBK, First Baltic Channel).
In the Baltics, PBK has been repeatedly criticised for showing Russia-minded and biased content. Last year, Lithuanian court for three months suspended broadcasts on Lithuanian territory of PBK’s programmes made in Russia after the programme «Человек и Закон» (Man and the Law) denied Soviet crimes in Lithuania.
«If a TV channel is closed, shall therefore the war end?» is how BMA strategic development head Ginta Krivma commented on the criticism towards PBK. «I highly value the freedom in the [Baltic] states. With a big and strong neighbour next to us, it is very vital to know what they are doing and what they themselves are saying about it.»
She went on to add that TV-watchers are intelligent people who are able to assess the varying points of view and thus arrive at their stand.
As told Postimees by Andis Kudors, executive director of the Riga-based Centre for East European Policy Studies, in a way PBK and NTV are of greater danger in our region than the Kremlin-geared RT, by targeting the Russian-speaking population of the Baltics. Therefore, Estonia and Latvia are planning a separate state channel for the local Russian-speaking population.
«In PBK, we are preparing our programmes so as to be the most popular channel among the Russian-speaking population. If the Estonian state thinks that more is to be offered, then our channel has loyal viewers,» said Ms Kozyrenko.
According to Ms Krivma, it is one thing to create a channel, and a totally different thing to find viewers for it. According to studies, PBK does have viewers. «By placing the content where the viewers are, taxpayer money would be prudently used,» Ms Krivma added.
Ms Kozyrenko said this was no official proposal to the state, but such creation of content would be a good solution. BMA has not contacted Estonian Public Broadcasting (ERR) regarding the matter.
member of ERR council
The new channel is being thought of as a means of propaganda; in my view this is not the case. The council is of the opinion that the channel to be created would be free of such shackles, media-wise. As in Russia the Kremlin has gained control of all media channels, it is enough to provide the option to say how things really are. PBK’s proposal cannot be taken seriously. It is definitely not in Estonia’s interests to start producing content into a channel under direct Kremlin control [nor into any other commercial one].