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Meet our new customer: welcome, Estonian Public Broadcasting!

Late last year, one of Estonia’s leading media organizations, Estonian Public Broadcasting (ERR) joined the ranks of Coop Bank’s customers.

We asked the chairman of ERR’s management board, Erik Roose, what led the public broadcaster to become a customer of Estonia’s most home-grown bank and what a media organization’s expectations as to working together with a bank.

At the end of last year, Estonian Public Broadcasting (ERR) opened a bank account at Coop Bank. What led you to become a Coop Bank customer?
Because the decision was finally made late last year and it soon won’t be possible to work in our old TV building, we started laying preparations for construction of the new building. As part of that process, ERR sold off its real estate holdings in the Rahumäe part of Tallinn where it was planning the previous television studio complex. That money is now being used for design development and preparations for construction. As there was some time before those services were paid for, we had a couple million euros in earmarked money that wasn’t being used every day. Our current financial services partners signalled that we would have to pay for the privilege of keeping that money with them. That situation didn’t sit well with ERR's management board: it didn’t seem like a good use of taxpayers’ money. So we asked for alternative offers and Coop Bank’s deposit offer proved to be the best. Along with the deposit, we opened a bank account and became a Coop Bank customer.

How would you rate your business relationship with Coop Bank?
We’re still only a new client but the start of our cooperation is off to a very smooth start. We hope for more of the same.

What do you consider most important from a business customer’s perspective in choosing a bank?
All customers are probably different and the same is true for business customers. A smaller company may have different challenges than those facing an organization with 700 employees. Yet I believe that what they have in common is that both want and even expect good service. True, the definition of “good” may vary, too. For us, quick responses and straightforward communication are important. It doesn’t always have to be exactly as we requested, but sometimes it can be just as good to be able to put our minds together or even get a quick but honest answer that no, we don’t do this or that. If the service provider is able to recommend different options for resolving problems, that’s the point where things are already very good.

The motto of Coop Pank and the consumer cooperatives operating under the Coop trademark is about keeping every corner of the country vital and dynamic. ERR also lays much emphasis on not limiting coverage of Estonia to Tallinn and the capital region. How important do you feel it is that a bank take local conditions into consideration and give back more broadly to society?
Although laws (other than the Public Broadcasting Act itself) generally don’t say it as clearly, the people perceive such major services like broadcasting and banking as being more like infrastructure services. By that, I mean such services are almost in the same category as a general store, medical care, road maintenance and schools.
For me it is clearly a matter of quality of life and ultimately, the sustainability of the Estonian state. Of course we’re not as wealthy as Norway, which builds bridges or tunnels to link smaller islands with only two households, but to a certain extent the basic services should be practically a human right in our country as well. If we add in high-quality internet connections, that’s getting close to the level that we need.
So yes – both banks and broadcasters must think about all 1.35 million of the people in Estonia. I would also include all of the Estonians living abroad, so the figure could be 100,000 higher, because they, too, can read and watch news on ERR and use bank services over the internet.

What are the most important goals for ERR this year?
We will naturally continue with the new TV building development, although that is certainly a multi-year project. Secondly, we want to introduce a free of charge streaming environment that would be a modern domestic web gateway for all people of Estonia, both home and abroad. This will hopefully make it easier to access our huge archive, which can sometimes be hard to navigate. Third, we have to continue discussions on how to fund broadcasting in future, because our calculations show clearly that if there is no political commitment to change the basic principles for funding, we will start to have to cut back our programming services already in the near future. We’re in a situation where Estonian taxpayers currently pay less for their public broadcasting than in most European countries yet they’re getting far better than the average. We will also try to think about how to create a broadcasting service that makes all of our people to feel that they have a stake in the content, which tries to be there for them through all their daily joys and concerns. And also entertain people a little along the way.

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