April 15, 2003. Estonia's voluntary
self-regulatory Press Council (Pressinõukogu) and internet news
portals have signed an agreement under which the Press Council will
handle complaints regarding the journalistic content of these sites.
News portals, which are not attached to traditional newspapers, agree
to conform to the Estonian code of press ethics and undertake the
obligation to honour the Press Council's rulings on them.
Three internet service providers (AS Delfi, Tele2 Eesti AS and
Eesti Telefon), which operate news portals, informed the Press Council
in December 2002 that they recognize the Press Council as the media's
self-regulatory body to handle complaints from the public. The
portals also said they recognize the Estonian code of press
As newspaper web sites are already within the bounds of the Press
Council, it was considered a logical next step to start accepting
complaints from the public also about news portals which are not
linked to a traditional newspaper.
The news portals and newspaper online editions already have
self-regulation in place on the level of their own operation: notice
and take down.
The Press Council was set up by the Estonian Newspaper Association in
August 2002 as a non-statutory body of press self-regulation to handle
complaints from the public about the printed press. The Press Council
replaces a previous self-regulatory body, Avaliku Sõna Nõukogu, which
was hit by a crisis after its chairman Urmas Loit was given a vote of
no confidence by the newspaper industry over his failure to tackle
conflicts of interest and ethics.