Latvian journalists' association calls TV Rain's punishment 'disproportionate'

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The Latvian Association of Journalists (LŽA) said December 7 it pities the decision of the National Electronic Mass Media Council (NEPLP) to cancel the broadcasting licence for the television channel (“Дождь”/“ TV Rain”) and considers it disproportionate to the infringements committed, according to a LŽA statement.

LŽA believes that allowing TV Rain to continue working with the Latvian licence and following closely the broadcast could have achieved a better result than closing the channel.

LŽA said that it did not doubt that TV Rain had infringed the terms of the license issued to the television channel, had demonstrated a graphic map that was not in line with the understanding of the democratic world about the indivisibility of Ukrainian territory, and had expressed its desire to support the soldiers mobilized in the Russian army, which is not acceptable to the Latvian society as a whole.

“At the same time, it can be seen that the Latvian public is not so naive as to begin to believe that Crimea belongs to Russia or that the aggressor's army should be assisted,” said LŽA.

“It should be noted that TV Rain lacks work experience in Latvia, and does not have an understanding of public opinion and its role in a democratic society. This does not justify the TV makers, but explains somewhat what has happened. It is also important to understand the environment from which the media has come and under which conditions it has been forced to leave a terrorist state against whose ideology it stands, just as the Latvian society and journalists are opposed to Putin's regime."

According to LŽA, in this situation, both supervisory authorities and the Latvian journalist community should have worked with TV Rain and other Russian journalists, also helping to understand the values of Latvia and Europe, the principles of media independence, rights, and responsibility.

In the opinion of the association, the case of TV Rain may serve as a negative precedent for other media registered in Latvia but broadcasting in Russian or providing content to audiences of other languages and countries, with negative consequences for the Latvian media environment as a whole.

“If NEPLP has more information on how “TV Rain” is a threat to the State and public security of Latvia than publicly stated, LŽA calls for it to be made public, because closing the media on the basis of unknown information is a direct threat to freedom of expression,” said LŽA.

“TV Rain has made a serious mistake, without realizing that Latvia is clearly on Ukraine's side, and there are no calls to support the Russian army here, neither acceptable nor permissible, but by depriving the channel of a license, we are pushing them back into the Russian world defined by the Kremlin,” said LŽA.

As reported by LSM, the media supervisor NEPLP decided to revoke TV Rain's broadcasting license on the basis of several infringements which, in the opinion of NEPLP and the State Security Service (VDD), could threaten Latvia's national security. The NEPLP concluded that TV Rain "commits violations systematically and does not recognize them"' and "it cannot be ruled out that violations of regulatory acts will be allowed again". According to VDD’s assessment, the statements made in the broadcast are directed against national security interests and create a false impression of Russia’s army, encouraging public sympathy for the aggressors.

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