Media watchdog fines illegal 'Free State TV' broadcaster

The National Electronic Mass Media Council (NEPLP) has decided to fine the individuals involved in providing broadcasts of the website “www.brivvalsts.tv” in three administrative infringement proceedings for the illegal provision of an audiovisual service on demand, NEPLP said December 2.

Brīvvalsts TV (Free State TV) is known to produce content within the narrative of the Latvian state losing its independence and encouraging 'freedom of thought', particularly with a view to opposing Covid-19 restrictions.

The Council has carried out a thorough inspection of the website “www.brivvalsts.tv”, assessing its compliance with the characteristics of an on-demand audiovisual service. The NEPLP has found that all the features of the site exist at the same time, indicating that the “www.brivvalsts.tv” service providers were required to provide the Board with a notification of the service before it was launched and therefore to officially become an electronic medium.

The NEPLP explained that the purpose of the service on demand is to provide, in principle, broadcasts similar to television in a digital environment, which can be viewed on demand. The service provider may also generate different types of revenue in this way to cover the costs of the service.

The NEPLP decided to impose the highest possible penalty of €700 for two parties involved in the production and provision of programmes and €500 for infringements of the requirements of the Electronic Media Act.

“The infringement is considered to be significant: the service on demand has been illegally provided for a long time, thus not only by misleading a large part of the public, but also by creating an unequal situation in a sector where other service providers provide the service on demand while respecting the obligations and constraints imposed by the regulatory enactments governing the sector,” said Ieva Kalderauska, Member of the NEPLP.

NEPLP called on the provider of the “www.brivvalsts.tv” service to submit a statement on the supply of an audiovisual service upon request and thus to cease illegal activities.

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