Crisis announced at Latvian Radio due to funding shortage

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The board of Latvian Radio on July 15 published an open letter addressed to high-ranking state officials, asking for wage funding to be boosted by €100,000 this year and nearly €1m the next to prevent newsroom standards from falling.

The letter claims there's a financial and human resources crisis at the radio organization that is in charge of programming and broadcasting a total of six channels, including the popular radio stations LR1 and LR2 as well as the LR4 Russian-language station.

"Latvian Radio is at the edge of an abyss," the letter said, while listing past promises and plans to increase public media funding in Latvia that have come to naught.

"If adequate resources for producing content and broadcasts at Latvian Radio aren't provided very soon, the security of the Latvian informative space will decrease substantially along with the chance for the public to obtain independent, professional and objective information about events in the country and the world," the letter said. 

In addition to the more urgent funding request to prevent staff walkouts and ensure sufficient and professional coverage, the letter also asks to provide funding so that the radio could replace advertisements with apt content, to the tune of €1.79m for 2020 and €3.57m in the following years.

On July 10, news staff released an open letter calling on the board of the organization to quit and describing the situation in the newsroom as critical due to the repeated departure of journalists to other jobs as a result of low pay and overwork.

According to European Broadcasting Association data, public funding of media in Latvia is the lowest among EU Member States and 30-45% lower than in neighboring Lithuania and Estonia. In Latvia, the state budget subsidy for public media is 0.1% of GDP, while the European average is 0.17%.

Latvian Radio is part of the same LSM public media organization as LSM English.

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