Estonia | Freedom House

Freedom of the Press



Freedom of the Press 2008

2008 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. Libel has been removed from the penal code, and there are no legal penalties for “irresponsible journalism.” Numerous media outlets operate throughout the country, and the independent media express a wide variety of views without government interference. The Public Information Law, which is the primary legislation governing freedom of information, obliges the authorities to assist the public in accessing public documents. There were no reports of physical harassment or intimidation of journalists in 2007.

The country’s public broadcasters are Estonian Television and Estonian Radio. The two nationwide commercial television stations, Kanal 2 and TV3, are owned by Scandinavian companies. 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 programming to the country’s sizable Russian-speaking population. There are nearly 150 newspapers in the country, and given the small size of the country’s media market, most of them are financed by readers or owners, not by advertising revenues. However, according to the market research company TNS Latvia, Estonia’s media advertising market volume increased by 28 percent in 2007 compared with 2006, with newspapers accounting for 40 percent of the country’s total advertising market share; the largest measure of year-on-year growth occurred in the internet sector. The government allows unrestricted access to the internet, and Estonia remains among the leading countries in the world regarding internet penetration, with nearly 60 percent of the population actively online in 2007. In late April, access to the online versions of the country’s two largest newspapers, Eesti Paevaleht and Postimees, was temporarily disrupted by coordinated large-scale cyberattacks that also targeted government and other commercial websites. The attacks were widely believed to have been conducted in retaliation for the relocation of a controversial World War II monument, an event that sparked two days of rioting in the capital city, Tallinn.