Media watchdog complains in UK over Russian TV insult

Latvia's broadcast regulator, the National Electronic Mass Media Council (NEPLP), has asked the UK's Office of Communications to review possible violations of the British-regulated NTV Mir channel rebroadcast in Latvia, concerning a program calling Latvia's Saeima speaker Ināra Mūrniece a neo-Nazi, the council told the press Thursday.

According to NEPLP, on April 20 the broadcast Mesto Vstrechi (The Meeting Place) featured a discussion about the possible rebirth of Nazism in Europe, along with a story in which the Latvian Saeima speaker Ināra Mūrniece was called a neo-Nazi notorious for holding a negative attitude to Russia.

"The biased story claimed that Mūrniece attended the annual Nazi legionnaire parade and laid flowers by Nazi graves in Latvia on March 16,” the NEPLP said.

March 16, often called "Legionnaires' day", is an unofficial commemoration day of Latvian soldiers fighting on the side of Nazi Germany during World War II.

According to LSM's Latvian-language service, Mūrniece was not seen at the parade, however she was among the attendees at the ceremony at the fraternal cemetery in Lestene where soldiers of the Latvian Waffen SS Legion are buried. 

NEPLP claimed that the footage of Mūrniece purportedly laying flowers at Nazi graves in Latvia was in fact filmed in Kiev when she and the rest of the Latvian official delegation laid flowers at the Independence Square on February 13, 2015, the anniversary of the pro-Western Maidan uprising.

Accordingly, NTV Mir broadcast biased information which is prohibited under both Latvian media law and the Broadcasting Code of the British Office of Communications, the NEPLP said.

In April NEPLP banned the Rossiya RTR Russian TV channel from being rebroadcast in Latvia for six months.

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

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