Broadcast regulator says 10 million euros needed to stabilize public media

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In order to solve the current problems at Latvian Radio and Latvian Television, the country's broadcast watchdog, the National Electronic Mass Media Council (NEPLP) is asking that more than 10 million euros be allotted to the public media, the LETA newswire learned from the council.

The NEPLP's report submitted to the government offers several proposals to stabilize the situation at the public media, it also deals with the amounts of financing necessary to achieve that.

The report offers an analysis of the situation at Latvian Radio and a set of proposals to solve the problems, temporarily and in the long term. The report suggests improving the radio's efficiency, and using the money thus saved for the radio's development. Taking into account that the matter of Latvian Radio cannot be considered individually and independently from Latvian Television and the portal [of which the English language service forms a part], as all three share common problems, labor markets, tasks and objectives, the report also offers immediate solutions concerning the development of Latvian Television this year.

Following the amendments to the Consumer Rights Protection Law, as of July 1 this year the public media have been completely banned from deriving income by airing commercials of lending businesses as part of a move towards a full withdrawal from the advertising market. In the light of that fact, the Council considers that urgent steps should be taken to ensure the provision of original content by the public media in the fall season this year.

The NEPLP is proposing that EUR 51,049 be allotted to Latvian Radio and EUR 259,223 to Latvian Television from the government's emergency funds for the purchase of studio equipment and to compensate for the decrease in the media's operating income. Furthermore, the NEPLP proposes that Latvian Radio should be allocated 129,046 and Latvian Television EUR 254,191 for content stabilization and provision of its public service remit for the remainder of 2019.

In order to decisively solve the situation, the NEPLP suggests that Latvian Radio be given EUR 1.79 million and Latvian Television EUR 5,384,176 to compensate for their exit from the advertising market, and that EUR 989,000 be given to Latvian Radio and EUR 500,000 to Latvian Television to strengthen their capacities, plus EUR 1,604,133 be allotted for the public media's recreational programs.

As previously reported, Latvian Journalists' Association has turned to Saeima, claiming that NEPLP members be dismissed. The association is asking Saeima to assess NEPLP members' performance as soon as possible, as well as to introduce a new public media management system. The Journalists' Association believes that the current NEPLP members are not competent and constructive enough to solve problems in the media environment.

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