New board at Latvian Radio meets mixed response

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Director Jānis Siksnis will no longer lead Latvian Public Radio (LR) as of next January 15, as the National Electronic Mass Media Council (NEPLP) on Monday approved three new board members to run the state-owned public broadcasting company, which is in the midst of a restructuring as it merges into a unified media group with Latvian Public Television (LTV) in the coming year.

Aldis Pauliņš, whose twenty years of experience in the media business and recent position as chief of social research agency Factum Group and work as an active member on the Social Consultative Council gave him the edge over Siksnis, was chosen according to a point-system after the NEPLP deliberated for over three hours.

“This will mean changes at LR, but there will be a very good foundation for them,” NEPLP chairman Ainārs Dimants told LSM in acknowledgement of Siksnis’ professional legacy [LSM, including LSM English is part of the same publicly-owned group - Editor].

Longstanding news agency BNS chief editor Sigita Kirilka will be LR board member in charge of program development, while Uldis Lavrinovičs, currently head of the state Radio and Television Center will take over as board member in charge of personnel and technical issues.

As for incoming director Pauliņš, he said that Siksnis’ experience and vision would be very useful to LR in the future and expressed hope in the possibility that a leading role could be found for the outgoing director in the company henceforth.

Siksnis presided over major new initiatives, albeit controversial, whose results have yet to be fully assessed, such as the launch of youth channel and other programming changes.

However the opaque manner in which the new names emerged - candidates were not revealed during the interview process - has come under fire from the Latvian Association of Journalists.

The organization's Anda Rozukalne said: "The result is a baffling and conclusions are controversial, because really it is not clear reasons why Mr Pauliņs has won."

However, writing on her twitter account one of the succesful applicants, Sigita Kirilka, defended her appointment, saying the interviews had been "very tough" and reminding critics of her professional experience.

"Dear friends, let work do the talking! Who among you has 15 years experience directing media content? Let them cast the first stone," Kirilka said.

Latvian Radio employees are due to hold a meeting Tuesday to discuss their response to the appointments.

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