Citizens Angered By Municipal Television Turn to Civic Activism

laine uudised-laine
12. Jun 2011

A grassroots activists group called "Raha Lastele" (Money for Children) is collecting signatures to divert € 2 million from Tallinn's municipal television station to the city's kindergartens which are known for being overcrowded and underfunded.

Tallinn established its television station, TallinnTV this year as a way of providing local news and information to Tallinners and providing a counterbalance for the Estonian Public Broadcasting, which Tallinn's mayor Edgar Savisaar has repeatedly criticized for having a pro-government bias. 

However, not everyone sees TallinnTV in the same light. Citing low ratings (the TV station has an average rating of 1,8% share, lower than almost all major networks in Estonia), Katrin Väljataga and the non-profit organization MTÜ Kodanike Hääl have started a campaign to divert the 2 million euros the city government has budgeted for TallinnTV to municipal daycare, which has seen it's funding fall by over 2 million euros in the past few years. 

According to the law, civic initiatives can be brought up for discussion in the city council if they are backed by at least 1% of the city's population. In Tallinn, this means 4130 signatures. The project, "Raha Lastele" has already raised over 3000 signatures and it looks increasingly likely that the city council will have to discuss their proposal before signing the fall budget.

The activists realize that their proposal will nevertheless probably fail, as the Centre Party, proponents of TallinnTV hold the majority of seats in the city council. However, they hope that they will at least have to rationalize their decision in the ensuing debate. 

The proposal has been liked by 14,000 people on Facebook and received praised by media organizations and third sector representatives. The leaders of Tallinn have expressed suspicion towards the campaign, suspecting astroturfing by pro-government lobbyists.