New Latvian Radio appointments made by media watchdog

Just three days after Latvia's media watchdog dismissed a Latvian Radio board member September 29, two new members were installed for five year terms on October 4.

On November 2, the Council unanimously approved Una Klapkalne for the post of Chairwoman of the Management Board of Latvian Radio and Mārīte Tukiša in the post of Management Board member for financial management for the next five years, the NEPLP said in a statement.

For the last 10 years Klapkalne has been a member of the board of the LETA news agency. Tukiša has worked in different positions in the commercial Radio Skonto Group since 2002.

"The NEPLP has set the main tasks for the new board, including work on the elaboration of the public procurement system and budget of 2018, the creation of a new remuneration system, the development of the LR strategy, the implementation of structural reforms as well as the development of the principle of cooperation with third parties by attracting funding for content production," the statement said.

Ironically, it was previous board member Sigita Roke's attempts to attract funding from outside agencies for content production that that were cited as reasons for her summary dismissal on September 29, as previously reported by LSM. This was characterized by NEPLP as covertly selling content.

The decision to sack Roke was heavily criticised, notably by the Latvian Journalists Association (LŽA), which said in a statement "the shortcomings listed by NEPLP... do not provide a solid basis for such a radical decision" and criticized the leadership style of NEPLP board member Ivars Ābolins in particular.

"Managing change without constructive dialogue is impossible, but NEPLP has chosen to deal with many issues through comments in the public space that has not fostered trust between the public media and the supervisory authority and damaged the reputation of Latvian Radio and thus contradicts the public interest," said LŽA Chairwoman Rita Ruduša.

Elsewhere fears have been expressed that the changes may be part of an attempt to politicize the media one year ahead of Saeima elections.

In response October 2, the NEPLP said it had drawn the attention of the Saeima Human Rights Commission and the Ministry of Culture to the fact that news reports over the weekend had speculated on the identities of possible candidates for the NEPLP jobs.

"The law does not allow the names of candidates to be revealed during the course of the competition or their candidacy for public discussion. NEPLP apologizes to everyone whose names have come out of this contests as a result of various speculations," the NEPLP statement said.

On August 10, a tender was announced for the post of LR board chairman, as well as board member responsible for financial management of LR. A total of 28 candidates applied.

LSM is part of the same umbrella public media organization as Latvian Radio and Latvian Television.

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