Journalists oppose proposals for control of public media

The Latvian Journalists Association (LJA) said Wednesday it was "completely opposed" to core proposals that would see Latvian public media (LSM - including the LSM English language service) controlled by political appointees and a selection of oher special-interest groups.

The proposals drawn up by the Culture Ministry and which are ending a two-month consultation period suggest a new governing council that would oversee public media in its TV, radio and online aspects, made up of 13 individuals selected according to their political, religious or other affiliations.

"LJA categorically does not support [this] model, which is based on selection of members by a quota principle and not by competence... the current proposal would risk subjecting public media to political manipulation and devalue its content," the Association said in a news release giving an account of its most recent board meeting, signed by LJA chairman and Latvian TV reporter Ivo Leitans.

Instead of a large council of 13 part-time placemen and placewomen, the LJA suggests a slimmed-down council of 5 full-time employees consisting of a lawyer, an economist/financier and three media specialists.

LJA also suggests the appointment of a dedicated public media ombudsman would be a waste of time and money, suggesting instead that a single media ombudsman could be responsible for monitoring all media outlets whether publicly or privately funded.

The suggestions also draw attention to the fact that by concentrating almost exclusively on TV and radio content, the Culture Ministry proposals leave big question marks over the role and future of public online media (including this website) and even such basic issues as whether LSM will have access to suitable visual materials in future.

"The new law does not place sufficient emphasis on developing social media activities on the internet," said LSM chief editor Marta Cerava, adding that to talk about online media solely in a 2016 context is to ignore likely future trends in news consumption.  

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