Regulator says Russian TV comments about Latvian president contained "hate speech"

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Latvia's broadcast regulator, the National Electronic Mass Media Council (NEPLP), said August 14 that a May 30 broadcast by the Russian "Rossiya - 24" channel, disseminated in Latvia by numerous cable operators, contained hate speech concerning views expressed about new Latvian President Egls Levits.

"The National Electronic Mass Media Council, in monitoring broadcasts and verifying the content therein... has established that a Rossiya - 24 news broadcast spread information about the President of the Republic of Latvia Egils Levits and that it contained hate speech," the regulator said in a release.  

"Among other things, the show's presenter disseminated the following information: “The newly elected President of Latvia, Egils Levits, is involved in discrimination against national minorities, including Russians.” 

NEPLP said that 19 cable operators distributed the program in Latvia. Latvian law states that the content of programs broadcast from third countries is the responsibility of the cable operator and so has initiated 19 administrative cases with regard to the broadcast.

"There is no space for hate speech in the Latvian information space and NEPLP will continue to monitor programs that are unfriendly to Latvia," said Ivars Abolins, Vice-Chairman of NEPLP.

"This is an opportunity for every cable operator to evaluate its channel offerings to viewers," says Patrick Griva, another member of the NEPLP board. However no specific sanctions were specified in the release. In the past the NEPLP has imposed temporary broadcast bans on some Russian channels for hate speech incidents.

Rossiya - 24 is a state-owned Russian language news channel. As reported by our colleagues at LRT in Lithuania, it has also come under close scrutiny by the regulator there.

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