Watchdog requests Latvian public media financing at 0.16% of GDP

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In order to ensure independent, adequate and predictable funding for public service media – Latvian Television (LTV) and Latvian Radio (LSM is also part of the public media framework) – at the European average level, the Public Electronic Mass Media Council (SEPLP) urges the Saeima to raise public media funding to 0.16% of the gross domestic product (GDP).

SEPLP submitted a final report on the change in the financing model to the Saeima on Monday, June 5. An updated concept of a single public media has also been presented, with the aim of bringing the media together in 2025.

The SEPLP and its working group have examined and reported on five models for public media financing. The biggest support has been received by linking public media financing to GDP, as it ensures the independence of public media from the annual decisions of politicians. The funding would be adequate and predictable, allowing public media to plan and implement developments in the medium term.

Public media is an integral part of national security and should therefore be comparable to the defense sector, stated SEPLP.

The funding models examined were:

  • A fixed share of the State budget at 0.63% of the expenditure of the planned State budget;
  • Attracting certain tax revenues – 1.46% of personal income tax and 3.12% of excise duty;
  • Gross domestic product – 0.16% of actual or forecast GDP;
  • Public media tax from the employed population and active enterprises;
  • An investment plan to increase funding annually by 15-20% (or more if necessary) over the next three years (2024, 2025, and 2026).

SEPLP noted that the models proposed foresee an increase in funding for public media to the European average, or 0.16% of GDP over the five years until 2028.

According to the SEPLP, until now, Latvia's public media funding has been significantly lower than average in Europe. According to data from 2021, it was 0.11% of GDP and according to this year's forecasts, 0.09%. This is almost six million euro lower than in Estonia and 16 million less than in Lithuania (SEPLP's 2022 data).

SEPLP pointed out that the future of Latvia's public media as an institution particularly important for a democratic state in the rapidly changing and digital modern world will be determined by decisions on adequate financing.

SEPLP, therefore, calls on the Saeima to adopt a decision on the introduction of a new funding model by September 2023, so that a combined public media company can be set up in January 2025.

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