Country report – Latvia September 2013

02.10.2014 12:36
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Public Service Media

  • Concept for a new Latvian public service media

As reported previously, on 7 January 2013 the National Electronic Media Council (NEMC) approved the concept for the Latvian Public Service Media (LPSM) that foresees the creation in five years time, of the leading media in Latvia through the merger of the Latvian Television (LTV), Latvian Radio (LR) and internet platforms. Involved in the elaboration of the LPSM concept were more than 200 experts in the fields of the media, academia, finance, law, technology and other spheres. The concept was also acclaimed by foreign experts.

In the previous reporting period the LPSM concept was in the process of being harmonised with other ministries and various institutions. After that the concept was submitted to the Cabinet of Ministers for approval.

However, the Cabinet adjourned approval of the concept in order for it to be submitted to a special parliamentary sub-committee for “improvements”. The Coalition Council decided that a special parliamentary sub-committee should be established that would deal with the issue of the LPSM concept and the course of its development. The composition and tasks of the sub-committee in relation to examining the concept and the plans for its realisation have yet to be decided. This could only happen in September at the earliest, thus putting the concept on hold. Formation of this sub-committee had been demanded by representatives of two of the ruling coalition parties – Unity and the National Alliance. The political clamour surrounding the LPSM concept testifies to the desire of individual political forces to influence Latvian public service media in general and to subject the process of the formation of the Latvian Public Service Media to political control.

  • High level work group on joint Latvian Television and Latvian Radio projects

On 20 June the NEMC formed a work group for the collaboration of LTV and LR with the aim of organising and coordinating LTV and LR joint projects as well as to organise financing for these projects. The work group envisages the involvement of experts in the field as well as authoritative public figures. The group also foresees collaboration with the EBU. Despite the delay in obtaining approval of the LPSM concept, the work group will endeavour to achieve close cooperation between LTV and LR so that already this autumn and next year, the public service media offer on the television, radio and Internet platforms will contain more and higher quality news and informative documentary broadcasts as well as children’s, youth, educational, science and culture related content.

  • Public Advisory Council

The NEM Council’s Public Advisory Council (PAC) in its new composition had its first meeting on 23 April. The new PAC wishes to be more actively involved in the elaboration of the public service remit of LTV and LR, to give recommendations and improve the content and development process of the remit. The focus of attention of the new PAC will be on the evaluation of the 2013 remit of LTV and LR as well as the drafting of proposals for the 2014 remit.

The PAC advises the NEMC; its task is to ensure the participation of society in the elaboration process of the public service remit and other important issues in the work of the NEMC. The PAC comprises 20 representatives from the media, education, culture, science and human rights NGOs.

  • Joint Latvian Television and Latvian Radio news portal

As mentioned in the previous report, the joint Latvian Television and Latvian Radio news portal is now active. The portal offers news produced by journalists of both broadcasters in text, video and audio formats. There are also diverse items of investigative journalism and analyses of events. The portal at www.lsm.lv should gradually develop into a recognised brand representing content the public needs and the gateway to the common LTV and LR Internet platform.

Current issues in the electronic media sector

  • Pay DTT broadcasting from 1 January 2014

On 18 June the Cabinet confirmed the only participant, the incumbent Lattelecom as the winner of the tender to supply digital terrestrial pay television broadcasting services. Lattelecom currently provides both free to air and pay DTV broadcasting services in collaboration with the Latvian State Radio and Television Centre (LSRTC). From 1 January 2014 until 31 December 2021, the transmission of free to air channels (Latvian Television LTV1 & LTV7 and, hopefully, both national commercial channels LNT & TV3) will be done solely by the LSRTC but Lattelecom will provide the pay services.

  • Media policy seminar “One country – two media spaces?”

On 20 May the NEMC organized an international media policy seminar “One country – two media spaces?” Significantly, the seminar was held in Daugavpils, Latvia’s second largest city where ethnic Latvians form only some 18% of the population. It can often be observed that the information space of the Latvian and Russian language media is greatly divided and the impression is created that we are not living in the same country. One of the Council’s priorities is the formation of a national information space in Latvia. The seminar engaged in an in-depth analysis of the divided media space issue and discussed necessary future action.

  • On-demand audiovisual services

The NEMC plans to begin discussions with on-demand audiovisual media service providers in Latvia in order to comply with the AVMSD and the Latvian Law on Electronic Media regarding the requirement for enterprises to register on-demand services. In real life there are considerably more providers of on-demand services than the 3 registered with the NEMC.

  • Media policy

Parliament has asked the Ministry of Culture to examine the possibility of creating a new unit within the ministry that would be responsible for overall media policy in Latvia. Currently no one governmental institution is responsible for media policy as a whole. The report should be ready by the end of September.