Board of media watchdog names interim chairman

The National Electronic Mass Media Council (NEPLP) board, which is a member short since former chairman Ainārs Dimants was sacked, voted to make deputy chairman Aija Dulevska the interim chairman, reported the LSM Latvian news portal on Thursday. 

As well as acting as broadcast watchdog with the power to take action if illegal or inappropriate material is broadcast, NEPLP is also in overall charge of the funding of public broadcasting in Latvia, including the LSM news portals in Latvian, Russian and English.

A regular chairman of the board will be elected when Saeima chooses the fifth member of the board. Dulevska told Latvian Radio Thursday morning that she thinks it'd be logical to wait until the fifth member of the board is named to vote for a chairman of the board.

The Saeima Human Rights and Public Affairs Committee will start looking for a new member of the board, but she or he will probably be named only in autumn when the Saeima session starts.

Even though previously the NEPLP board had announced that the proceedings to sack the board amounted to an attack at media freedom, now Dulevska has no worries that the conflict with politicians could happen again.

Dulevska said she has no idea who'll be the new member of the board.

Meanwhile, Ainārs Dimants told BNS on Thursday that he has prepared a case to hand to the Constitutional court, though he won't be asking for his reinstatement but rather about whether the decision to fire him was made according to the law.

The proceedings for firing the NEPLP board started on June 17th when leaders of four Saeima factions, including the leading Unity party, the Regional Alliance Party and the Greens and Farmers Alliance filed a submission for the dismissal of the NEPLP, criticizing it for inefficient spending, increasing Russian programming on the radio, and 'losing face'. 

Only chairman Ainārs Dimants was sacked while the others remained in their posts. Members of media and a number of politicians widely criticized the decision.

For example, President of Latvia Raimonds Vējonis told Latvian Radio on July 8 that the decision to sack Dimants was "wrong", and said that it endangers the democratic values of Latvia.

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