Media watchdog sacks head of Latvian Television

On the very final workday of 2018, Latvia's media watchdog, the National Electronic Mass Media Council (NEPLP) sacked Ivars Belte, head of LTV, as well as Sergejs Ņesterovs, board member for program development. 

The decision is effective December 28. Ivars Priede, responsible for financing at Latvia's public television, will continue in his seat. NEPLP is to open a contest for the vacancies on January 10 and to instate a temporary board member next week.

In a statement to the press, NEPLP accused LTV of failing to ensure development planning and supervision, thereby creating the risk of ineffectively using taxpayers' money in 2017 and 2018. 

The media watchdog also said that LTV has failed to adequately use €1m of state funding granted in 2016. 

NEPLP also said that that LTV has been providing advertising services to commercial clients. For example, Belte had struck an agreement with a commercial TV station in October. According to NEPLP, the practice involves risks of cross subsidizing.

"In this way LTV funding - meaning, taxpayers' money - is used to maximize the earnings of a commercial media station," told NEPLP member Aurēlija Ieva Druviete, who oversees LTV. 

The watchdog also revoked performance bonuses for the television board. The board members have contested this.

LTV's porte-parole Krista Luīze Priedīte told LSM that the company is still familiarizing itself with the decision and will offer comment next week.

NEPLP is the institution that represents the public interest in the field of electronic mass media.

LSM English is part of the same umbrella public service organization as Latvian Radio and Latvian TV.

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