Decisions needed on unified Latvian public media

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Latvia should finally make a decision on whether or not to merge Latvian Television (LTV) and Latvian Radio (LR) into a fully-integrated, single public media company, said head of the Council of Public Electronic Media (SEPLP) Jānis Siksnis in an interview with Latvian Radio November 25.

Siksnis admitted that regarding public media [of which online portal LSM also forms a part], unresolved issues have accumulated for decades, which should finally be resolved. SEPLP – which is the public media regulator – has developed a long-term development plan in cooperation with public media over the past year, and it is hoped that the new Saeima and government coalition will take the opportunity to work with SEPLP on this plan.

"Because many things, as they say, just hang in the air, and this is a situation that prevents the media itself from developing. This creates situations when something needs to be specifically requested, specifically justified, which, in my opinion, creates unnecessary discussion, unnecessary situations of misunderstanding," said the head of SEPLP.

According to him, a decision should finally be made on how the role and functions of Latvian public media are to operate in the long term. 

"It is simply necessary to finally make a decision whether there will be this unified media or not. And then, depending upon that, how we can plan and how to act.

On issues such as infrastructure and investments in public media it is necessary to have a clear idea of the goals, Siksnis said. At least in solving infrastructure issues - in which things can we invest, what can we plan. 

"These are very serious matters that require a long-term approach, including financing. As long as there is no clarity about these big conceptual issues, we are forced to react from one situation to another, which does not always give the best result," said Siksnis.

SEPLP plans to send a letter on Friday, November 25, with a request to start working on the development and strengthening of public media as soon as possible. Proposals for the declaration of the new government were submitted some time ago, asking that it also include points on strengthening unified public media and introducing an adequate financing model.

"I hope that this will be the case, an appropriate attitude from the new government," Siksnis added.

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