Court rules broadcast authority chairman to be reinstated

The Administrative Regional Court ruled against the Saeima decision to sack Ainārs Dimants, former head of the National Electronic Mass Media Council (NEPLP), reported LSM's Latvian-language service Wednesday.

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

The court ruled that Saeima's decision is against the law, so Dimants has to be reinstated as the chairman of the broadcast authority.

The court noted that the ruling is to be carried out immediately, while the vacant post hasn't been taken yet.

If Saeima would approve a new chairman for the NEPLP, Dimants could not be reinstated and that the violation of Dimants' rights wouldn't be averted, said the court.

The Saeima Human Rights and Public Affairs Committee is currently looking for a new board member for the broadcast authority, and has already heard the case of seven candidates. The committee plans on moving one of the candidates up for vote by the Saeima within a week.

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 entire council.

The broadcast authority was criticized for inefficient spending, increasing Russian programming on the radio, and 'losing face'. 

In the end, only chairman Ainārs Dimants was sacked while the others remained in their posts. 

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