Mediator to manage talks between journalists and board at Latvian Radio

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In response to the crisis of trust between the newsroom and the board at Latvian Radio, a mediator has been hired to manage the talks, Latvian Radio board chairwoman Una Klapkalne told the press July 17.

In addition, the talks will involve the country's broadcast watchdog, the National Electronic Mass Media Council, while a possibility remains that the Latvian Journalists' Association will also be invited to the discussions.

"Part of the problem is just being able to sit down at a single discussion table," said Klapkalne. She said that as the conflict has been brewing for a long time, the solution should be sought through a neutral party.

Mediator Baiba Strupiša has been invited to manage the talks, while the exact number of hours she is to spend mediating is still to be determined.

NEPLP member Patriks Grīva confirmed that on Monday talks are to be held together with the mediator. He said that while the tasks finished since 2017 are substantial, there are communication problems within Latvian Radio and that includes the board.

On July 15 the board of Latvian Radio 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.

This followed an earlier open letter released by the news staff, which called the board to step down and described 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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