Latvia, Estonia agree Russian-language TV cooperation

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Representatives of public broadcasters in Latvia and Estonia have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to cooperate in providing Russian-language news services to the region's native Russian speakers, Latvian Television (LTV) said Wednesday. 

A meeting between LTV and its Estonian equivalent ERR "found that both public broadcasters match not only their visions of Russian- language channel goals, objectives and brand values, but also have a common vision about work to be done, including what has to be done together to reduce the cost of the project and [promote] its successful implementation," a statement said.

“As a result of the negotiations, both sides signed a 'Memorandum of understanding' which, - if given a positive decision by the Latvian government - will allow us to combine intellectual and material resources of both public broadcasters,” said LTV chairman Ivars Belte.

“We are pleased that we also agreed in such important issues as content production and purchasing, as well as personnel training,” Belte added, saying that the unifying factor in both channels would be shared values and mission.

Margus Allikmaa, Chairman of the Board at ERR said: “It goes without saying that the information field in Estonia and Latvia as well as in other Eastern and Central European countries, which is Russian originated and created by the Russian-language media, needs balancing. Russian-speaking populations in these countries deserve diverse quality journalism, which is based on different sources.

"They also deserve TV programs connected to local life. Estonia has decided to launch its own Russian-language TV channel and Latvia has the same plans. As the Estonian and Latvian public service broadcasting organisations share common objectives, all kind of co-operation, which would help to improve the quality of Russian-language information field, is justified and reasoned.”

However the deal stops far short of the pan-Baltic channel discussed in recent months with Lithuania nowhere to be seen.

It also suggests that rather than one single 'Baltic' entity, Russian audiences will actually be offered two separate but co-branded national channels.

As reported earlier, the National Electronic Mass Media Council (NEPLP) in a March 19 meeting decided in principle to create third LTV channel in Russian.

In December last year the Estonian government decided to allocate funds from the state budget for an ERR channel broadcast in Russian.

LSM's English news service is part of the same LSM public broadcaster as LTV.


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