LTV cancels planned EP election debates in Russian

Sigita Roķe, Editor-in-Chief of Latvian Television (LTV), in consultation with the LTV Editorial Board, has decided to cancel the planned European Parliament (EP) pre-election debate in Russian on the public media portal had planned to broadcast the European Parliament election debates in Russian, but the participants would have the opportunity to speak in Latvian and simultaneous interpretation would be provided.

The Russian-language debate was opposed by prominent public figures, and several politicians also publicly pressured to cancel it as part of their election campaigns. Several political forces running in the EP elections announced that their candidates would not take part in such debates.

Meanwhile, the Editorial Board of Latvian Television considered that there were no grounds to cancel the planned pre-election debate. LTV considered these activities as a targeted effort to influence not only editorial decisions but also to undermine public confidence in the public service broadcaster, LTV said in a public statement earlier.

"In the run-up to the European Parliament elections, LTV planned its content at the beginning of the year to reach as wide an audience as possible. To reach different groups of society with reliable and diverse information about the elections, it was decided to organize debates with representatives of parties or alliances of parties, led by journalists, not only in Latvian, but also in Russian, as is part of LTV's team of content creators and is very effective in reaching the minority target audience. editorial team, which has provided a wide range of content in previous elections, including debates with parliamentary candidates.

"However, we must admit that when planning the content, we did not foresee the reactions that would be generated before these European Parliament elections by inviting MEP candidates to participate in debates where the main language is Russian," Roķe said in a statement to the media.

Aware that LTV's content creators were acting in good conscience and wanting to defend their editorial independence and autonomy, LTV reacted strongly to public statements by public authorities and politicians. However, LTV has listened to the views expressed by public groups and the arguments of experts, reassessed the situation and the practicalities of hosting the debate in internal discussions, and decided that the debate with the candidates for MEP in Russian should be canceled, the statement says.

At the same time, Roķe stresses that her position as the editor-in-chief of LTV has not changed: 

"The public media is not and should not be an instrument for political forces or officials to achieve their goals."


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