Viewing of TV Channels in Estonia Before and After 28 September 2015
The Estonian Public Broadcasting Act sets nine goals for Estonian Public Broadcasting, and formulates eleven functions Estonian Public Broadcasting has to perform in order to achieve these goals.
Two of these are activities that contribute to increasing social cohesion of the society, and activities that assist in the promotion of the democratic form of government and, as far as possible, meet the information needs of all sections of the population, including minorities. In order to achieve these goals, Estonian Public Broadcasting creates and broadcasts various programmes that contain the factors that inflence the increase of cohesion in the society and support the development of democracy. These programmes reach as many people of Estonia as possible, including all sections of the population and the minorities. This article uses two indicators for analysing the changes in the viewers of Estonian Public Broadcasting during the period from January 2003 to October 2015 – weekly reach, and the share of viewing and listening time from the general viewing/listening time. Using these indicators, it is possible to mark the trends of changes that have taken place on a timeline, and predict the capability of Estonian Public Broadcasting to fulfi the goals provided by law by extrapolating these trends into the future. The article focuses on the TV watching trends of Estonian-speaking and Russian-speaking young people (aged 4–29 years).
When we compare the viewing of TV channels among the Estonians and the viewers speaking other languages, we can see that in comparison to the level of 2003, the viewing of Estonian Public Broadcasting channels among young people speaking other languages has signifiantly dropped in 2015 (during the period between 1 January and 27 September 2015). Among Estonian young people, the position of Estonian Public Broadcasting was stronger, but the trend was also negative, and although the viewing of Kanal 2 and especially TV3 group of channels had dropped even more, the viewing of Estonian Public Broadcasting is still lower.
This poses the question of how to assess the effectiveness of Estonian Public Broadcasting (TV channels) in fulfiling the goals and functions provided by law in meeting the information needs of young people, especially non-Estonian young people.
The programme ETV+, which is meant for Russian-speaking audience, has been on air since 28 September 2015. The analysis of their fist fie weeks on air shows that the weekly reach of ETV+ is 22 percent of all viewers aged four years and older. 21.4 percent of Estonians and 23.3 percent of non-Estonians watch ETV+ in a week. The share of viewing time is 0.4 percent and 0.8 percent respectively. Thus it can be said that ETV+ has been of interest to both communities, and a relatively large part of Russian audience has found ETV+. And the weekly reach of ETV+ among Russian-speaking young people is higher than among their Estonianspeaking peers. When we compare the numbers of viewers during the period between 28 September and 8 November 2015 with the same period in 2014, we can see that a positive change has occurred in the viewing of all Estonian Public Broadcasting TV channels. The weekly reach of ETV+ among the population speaking other languages and older than four years has risen from 19.2 percent to 30.5 percent, and among the young people, from 9 percent to 14.1 percent. Thus it can be said that the downward trend of Estonian Public Broadcasting TV channels during the period between 1 January 2003 and 27 September 2015 turned to increase after the opening of ETV+, and probably the launching of ETV+ has also positively inflenced the viewing of ETV and ETV2. ETV+ has been on air for only a few weeks, but it has already won a noteworthy audience. On the basis of all this, it can be said that after 28 September 2015, an important step has been taken in fulfiling the obligation of meeting the information needs of all sections of the population, which has been imposed by law on Estonian Public Broadcasting, more effectively than before.