Saeima debates removing ads from public media

Latvian public media might withdraw from the advertising market in 2020, the parliament human rights and public affairs committee concluded in a meeting on September 6.

During the meeting, Culture Ministry’s representative Aiga Grisane presented an informative report about the four possible scenarios for public media leaving the advertising market.

One of the scenarios provides that the public media stay in the advertising market that will not affect the government budget, and will ensure differentiation of revenues for the public broadcasters. At the same time, if the current situation does not change, competitiveness of Latvian-made contents will drop, and there is a risk that public and private media contents will commercialize, and the tension in the sector will remain high.

The second scenario provides for public media remaining in the advertising market, but new support is introduced to commercial media from the state budget. Such a scenario would prevent the risks posed by the current situation, while security and competitiveness of the media environment would be ensured.

The third scenario provides for gradual withdrawal of public broadcasters from the media market starting from 2018. The scenario has several sub-scenarios. While the fourth scenario provides that the public broadcasters completely leave the advertising market, and it could be implemented by the new Public Media Law that is being drafted.

According to the Culture Ministry, about €5 million would be necessary in total to ensure that both the Latvian public radio and the Latvian public TV leave the advertising market. Grisane said that the estimates are approximate.

Meanwhile Augusts Brigmanis (Greens and Farmers Union) said that the removal of ads from public media might be written into law next year. 

Lawmakers and experts agreed that withdrawal of the public media from the advertising market, most believably, can be implemented in 2020.

The LSM public news portals in Latvian, Russian and English are affiliated with Latvian Radio and Latvian Television. 

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