Watchdog suggests Latvian Television and Latvian Radio merger for 2024

The Public Electronic Mass Media Council (SEPLP) is calling for the merger of Latvian Radio (LR) and Latvian Television (LTV) in 2024 and for the media budget to be tied to specific tax revenues, reports LSM's Latvian language service.

The recommendation comes in a document prepared by the SEPLP containing proposals for future development of public media submitted to the Saeima Commission for Human Rights and Public Affairs.

If the concepts win the support of legislators, the changes envisaged in them will strengthen public media, the successful operation of which is an essential precondition for strengthening the democracy and the Latvian information space, the SEPLP said.

"The implementation of the concepts is crucial to ensure the independence of public service media from pressure from political or other influence groups, the quality of content and the trust of audiences," said Jānis Siksnis, Chairman of the SEPLP.

According to the merger concept, LTV and LR would be merged in January 2024.

"The change aims to increase the audience for social media in the digital environment, especially by attracting young people, while maintaining the diversity and high professional quality of content and leadership in linear platforms, and preserving identity," said Sanita Upleja-Jegermane, SEPLP member.

The development of a unified media infrastructure requires a special public investment program which includes the construction of a new media.

The concept of changing the financing model of public media envisages that the budget of public media could reach the average European level – 0.16% of GDP – within five years. Currently public media receives just 0.10% of GDP.

The SEPLP noted that Latvia's public media budget has long been one of the smallest in Europe and the smallest in the Baltic States.

The Concept for the Establishment and Operation of a Unified Public Electronic Media and the Concept for Changing the Financing Model for Public Electronic Media are available on the SEPLP website. 

Latvian Television and Latvian Radio are part of the same public media umbrella organization as LSM, but remain separate legal entities. 

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