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Editorial: the big screen meaning
Estonian TV turns 60

Estonian TV celebrating its 20th anniversary, and 35th of Estonian Soviet Socialist Republic. PHOTO: menu.err.ee

There's party in TV house today as ERR celebrates 60th birthday of ETV. Who could overestimate the role of public broadcasting and its central TV channel for society. 

As opined by BBC host Terry Wogan: should BBC go as it currently stands, it would not be a blow like losing the Royal Family but the cohesiveness of society would be paralysed. Likewise, on Estonian media landscape, ETV has its special place sensed by the nation – and realised by everyone employed in it. In his interview to Postimees, today, Public Broadcasting (ERR) head Margus Allikmaa calls this the «big screen» phenomenon.

While okay with understanding their importance, not always so with the responsibility. At the moment, the world is all but peaceful. This summer, ERR was warned for slumbering while Greece just about exited eurozone, Europe grappled with migration and Estonia was in domestic political turbulence. Meanwhile, the public broadcasting mainly served up stale «repeat» stuff.

Let the ETV take the criticism constructively. This is the way private media voices public expectations to an institution genuinely vital. It’s not just the taxpayer money either – rather, it’s the sense of security coming through the screen. Especially so when the times get tough. Thankfully, via the voice of its chief, ERR admitted to thinking how to improve the summertime situation. Good. Also good, that ERR at times undertakes to discuss the professionalism and independence of private media. Keeping each other fit.

While doubtless of national importance, ETV is no state television. Which we must occasionally call to mind while we still have the politicians who see ERR if not an outright propaganda machine then a megaphone of sorts. If the powers that be attempt to control or, via initiating self-censorship, to affect the content of public broadcasting, this must be resisted. And here the private media will never leave ERR alone. Among other things, responsibility spells courage. Thankfully, ETV and ERR as such hold some superb people doing good journalism.

Happy birthday, ETV! Congratulations, ERR!

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