Media expert: politicians exercise power against media

If Saeima votes for the dismissal of Ainārs Dimants, the Chairman of the National Electronic Mass Media Council, it will show to all parliament-elected public servants that any of them can be fired arbitrarily, without a legal basis to do so, said Anda Rožukalne, professor at the Rīga Stradiņš University, in an interview to Latvian Television.

Yesterday, the The Saeima Human Rights and Public Affairs Committee voted to pass Saeima's submission to dismiss Ainārs Dimants, citing careless spending, swearing on a youth program and the growing broadcast time of Russian programs on "Radio Skonto". Saeima is expected to green-light the decision within a week. 

"The politicians want to get rid of the [requirement to have] a legal basis to take action against a broadcast regulator," said Rožukalne.

She said that it is evident that some particular politicians' interests prevailed over those of the public when the decision was made.

If Saeima votes for Dimants' dismissal, the NEMMC will become weaker and MPs will find someone more docile. Other public servants will have to take into account that they can be sacked, as a result of a political maneuver, without any substantiation at all, added Rožukalne.

The proceedings for firing the NEMMC 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 NEMMC, criticizing it for inefficient spending, increasing Russian programming on the radio, and 'losing face'. 

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.

Anda Rožukalne is a professor at the Rīga Stradiņš University and a published media expert. Her opinion pieces have appeared on the LSM Latvian news portal as well.

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