Media watchdog fines news portal for alleged word misuse

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The National Electronic Mass Media Council (NEPLP) has decided to impose an administrative penalty of €8,500 on the Internet news portal for the alleged misuse of the word “deportation”, according to LETA's information on May 23.

According to the NEPLP decision, the word was not used by Tvnet itself but by the interviewee. 

Toms Ostrovskis, the chief editor of the Tvnet Group, told LETA that such NEPLP actions undermine the foundations of Latvian democracy. The portal will appeal NEPLP's decision.

In the Tvnet Russian version broadcast “Кто вам платит?” (“Who pays you?”) the Saeima deputy, Aleksejs Rosļikovs (For Stability!) was interviewed.

As indicated in the NEPLP decision, the portal has provided deliberately inaccurate information, namely that possible amendments to the Immigration Law provide for the deportation of residents of Latvia if they have not applied for the language check and for the status of the permanent resident of the European Union.

The NEPLP argues that the correct word to use in this case is not 'deportation' but 'expulsion' in the context of Russian and Belarusian citizens to their country of nationality if they fail to comply with the requirements of the Law for claiming the status of a long-term resident of the European Union. According to the document, the portal has been fined for “failing to respect due precision and neutrality” by not changing the course of the conversation or explaining the topic to the audience when the word appeared.

The decision may be appealed within ten working days at the Riga City Court.

Ostrovskis told LETA that NEPLP's decision on media activity in Latvia means a further need for a list of “banned words” and “banned persons”, which should not be published in the relevant context. NEPLP's head Ivars Āboliņš denied the existence or creation of such a list on Twitter.

The editor-in-chief noted that the word “deportation” is a widely used legal term for national immigration policy and does not apply only to historical events before and after World War II in Latvia. The Latvian online Thesaurus dictionary, too, lists deportation and expulsion as synonyms and refers to deportation as the removal of persons from a state on a legal basis.

Ostrovskis also stated that Tvnet was being punished not only for the use of the word “deportation”, but also for an interview with the Saeima deputy whose opinion is not consistent with the position of the leading parties.

Ostrovskis expressed confidence that such action by NEPLP undermines the foundations of Latvian democracy.

“Tvnet group” is owned by AS “Postimees Grupp”, registered in Estonia, which is part of the holding “MM Grupp”.

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