On 3rd floor of TV house, a studio sits furnished like a comfy home in Estonia. The kitchen, the living room, the soft sofa. The Scandinavian-like modesty is contrasted by a black corner lit up like a nightclub. Come Monday morning, it's here they launch a new Russian language ETV+ channel by ERR, the Public Broadcaster.
Under editor-in-chief Darja Saar, a team of over 100 will be working at the channel, the yearly programme-costs of which are set at €3.6m (in 2015 budget of ERR). For this resource – in eyes of large TV nations as nothing – a full-time TV station will kick into gear, with 20 hours of daily air time including nine unique own programmes.
«This is a long-term missions project forwarding objective information in Russian. Not many like this exist in the world,» said ERR board member Ainar Ruussaar. Along with its editor-in-chief, from the very creation the channel has come under heavy international scrutiny, noticed by the likes of BBC and Reuters. Traditionally, yesterday’s press conference was spiced with politically loaded questions, even the exclamation in Russian about «Who owns Crimea!?».
Ms Saar, smiling yet visibly tired, distanced herself from politics saying ETV+ has its main goal to not leave viewers indifferent. «Be the viewers Estonian or Russian speaking, they need to feel: this topic touches me, I am part of this society,» underlined Ms Saar. «This is what I tasked my editors with: when you speak, speak of what touches the people.»
Neither Mr Ruussaar nor Ms Saar desired to tell us what the viewership numbers might be. Underneath the article, find desired impact in Estonian media in 1.5 years.
Of the Russian language TV channels, where ETV+ will be competing, PBK is top popular. Last October, it consumed 21 percent of the TV-time of non-Estonians in the land (TNS Emor). «I really apologise before the other TV channels for the eyes we will have on ETV+ and not what they always watched, this Monday,» said Ms Saar. A survey conducted at the creation of the channel showed 65 percent f Estonia’s Russian-speaking population was waiting for ETV+ to arrive. «We are not competing with you, we are competing with ourselves,» said Ms Saar, citing the channel’s creative credo.
On Monday, ETV+ starts at 6:55 AM with the morning programme «Kofe+» The evening prime time will be introduced at 7:00 pm by Anna Sapronenko and Andrei Titov with the entertainment programme «Your Night», followed at 8:00 pm by the newscast «Aktuaalne kaamera» in Russian. Thereafter, it’s own programmes zone. This Monday, it’ll be «Travels with Marija Vie», where the photographer and documentary director Ms Vie is discovering the nature of Estonia.
A crown jewel at any TV station, investigative journalism will be brought by «Knife’s Edge» hosted by a Postimees in Russian journalist Olesja Lagašina. Also from Postimees, Ksenia Repson-Deforge will feature in cookery programme bearing the tricky name of «Фунт Meat». Add to that cultural programme «Rhubarb», the everydayness-discussing «Touches All», a quiz «Who’s Asking», and fashion artist Oksana Tandit’s author programme «Creative».
Unavoidably, there’ll also be the sports, and the movies – both the timeless classics («The Last Relic», «Captain Grant’s Children») and the latest Russian cinema.
For the most part, ETV+ is equipped with subtitles. It is found in nearly all legal cable operator lists and on channel 7. Till Monday, it runs rus.err.ee news and Raadio 4 programme. For help finding the channel, address your cable operator.
ETV+ goals by end of 2016 (on basis of 2015 ERR budget)
75 percent of Russian speakers dwelling in Estonia will know the channel exists;
50 percent of target group will watch it for a minimum of 30 minutes a week;
65 percent of Russian speakers in Estonia will have watched the channel at least once during the last half year;
65 percent of regular viewers will consider it trustworthy or rather trustworthy.