Latvian Independent Television ceases independent operations

Fears about the future of the Latvian Independent Television (Latvijas Neatkarīgā Televīzija) news division came to fruition November 7 when All Media Baltics Communications Manager Alise Mališko announced that all of their products will be rebranded and unified under the TV3 brand.

The media group itself will also be rebranded as TV3 Group. Alongside the rebranding, All Media Baltics will begin developing the first digital news platform in the region. It will be available via an app and operate on the “video on demand” principle.

All Media Baltics will expand the TV3 news selection by carrying over a majority of LNT news division content. The media group will also create a unified news division, offering news content for various media formats.

“The LNT channel won't continue operations in its current form, but it's main value – quality, professional and topical news content – will be available to users on the new platform, where viewers can consume the news at a convenient time, place and environment,” explained All Media Baltics CEO Christian Anting.

Anting pointed out that media spending in Latvia, especially on news content, is closely correlated with audience age. "To not lose our 30 and under audience and be able to accommodate their habits is a challenge for all media. We're going to make serious investments into digital products. This will decrease young people's reliance on fake or misleading news, instead offering this audience quality news content in a convenient format," said Anting.

"Of course we consider that the LNT news division is a crucial part of the Latvian information space. Despite everything, our professional collective is continuing to operate as usual," said Journalist Ieva Vārna before the official rebranding announcement.

When in 2012 TV3 holder and international media holding company MTG acquired LNT, the Competition Council approved the deal with conditions. One was that for five years both programmes – TV3 and LNT – must retain independent and permanent news broadcast editorial boards, and the current amount of broadcasts.

In 2017 when MTG sold its Baltic broadcast business Providence Equity Partners to the Lithuanian Bite Lietuva, the business became All Media Latvia. The competition council allowed the deal with several stipulations, including that the unified business cannot combine the TV3, 3+, and TV6  program group with the LNT and Kanāls 2 program group to sell to other market actors for further distribution.

The Competition Council informed Latvian Radio that the stipulation about not combining the news services was in effect through December 31, 2017.

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