Estonia | Freedom House

Freedom of the Press



Freedom of the Press 2006

2006 Scores

Press Status


Press Freedom Score
(0 = best, 100 = worst)


Political Environment
(0 = best, 40 = worst)


Economic Environment
(0 = best, 30 = worst)


The government respects freedom of speech and the press. Numerous media outlets operate in Estonia, and legal protections for press freedom are enforced. Libel has been removed from the penal code, but it is still treated as a criminal offense. A proposed defamation bill, drafted by the Justice Ministry in 2005, would enable punishment of individuals who post defamatory comments on the web and would make media owners responsible for the content on their sites, arguably prompting some sites to close down if they do not have adequate monitoring mechanisms.

Three national television stations, including two privately owned, broadcast both Estonian- and Russian-language programs. However, considering the size of the Russian population in Estonia, the proportion of programs in the Russian language remains small. Newspapers in Estonia claim complete independence from political parties and the government; in an overwhelming majority of situations this appears to be the case. The private media sector in Estonia is largely controlled by Scandinavian companies and is able to operate profitably. However, the public broadcaster, Eesti Television, has suffered some financial difficulties since it stopped selling advertising in 2000. Estonia still does not have a developed legal framework that would ensure stable funding of the state public broadcaster. The government allows free access to the internet, and the country has an unusually high rate of internet usage (at roughly 50 percent of the population), facilitated by numerous public internet access points and free wireless access zones.