Estonia | Freedom House

Freedom of the Press



Freedom of the Press 2007

2007 Scores

Press Status


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


Political Environment
(0 = best, 40 = worst)


Economic Environment
(0 = best, 30 = worst)


The constitution provides for and the government respects freedom of speech and of 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. There are no legal penalties for “irresponsible journalism.” The independent media express a wide variety of views without government interference. However, in August Mart Soidro, a longtime journalist and state official, was told privately by his boss, the director general of the Citizenship and Migration Board, that he should resign because of his earlier article criticizing the Centre Party’s behavior during the presidential elections.

The two main commercial television stations, which have nationwide reach, are owned by Scandinavian companies. The country’s public broadcasters are Eesti Televisioon and Eesti Raadio. Residents have access to a number of private radio stations and regional television channels, as well as cable and satellite services. Various public and private media outlets provide Russian-language news to the country’s sizable Russian-speaking population. There are dozens of newspapers in the country, most of them financed not by advertising revenues, but by readers or owners. However, according to the Tallinn-based marketing research and consulting company TNS Emor, Estonia’s advertising market grew by nearly 18 percent from 2005 to 2006; the largest measure of growth occurred in newspapers, followed by television, magazines, and radio. The government allows unrestricted access to the internet, and the country has an unusually high rate of internet usage, with about 52 percent of the population active online.