This article explores the ways in which different external and internal factors (especially politics and economics) have encouraged or hindered the evolution of Estonian Public Broadcasting. This article argues that the Estonian government’s ‘idealisation’ of market forces that is supported by European Union (EU) media policy and driven by the common market ideology does not take into account the actual abilities of a small country’s media companies to provide a wide range of media services, and thereby limits the offerings of high-quality local content. The research methodology is based on an analysis of EU media policy documents, Estonian media legislation and broadcasters’ annual reports in the period from 1992 to 2014. The main finding of this article is that official Estonian media policy is largely shaped by the financial results of private media companies.
The need to re-structure established media systems needs to be acknowledged. In a situation where new services will be provided by different actors of the digital economy, the role of public service media (PSM) requires attention. If, generally, PSM are under pressure in Europe, the situation in small national markets is even more complicated. PSM are under pressure and also need to find ways to reformulate their role in society and culture. Broad discussions and new agreements between politicians, citizens and the media industry are necessary to change this situation. We will approach the question of whether a specific gap still exists in the media market that can be filled by PSM? The article will seek these answers based on various survey data and collected statistics in Estonia.