Watchdog to ask €1.6m in support for commercial media

Latvia's broadcast watchdog, the National Electronic Mass Media Council (NEPLP) has prepared a policy document that asks for about €1.6 million in support for commercial media, which are seeing huge losses in advertising revenue during the Covid-19 crisis.

The notice will be forwarded for cabinet review this week.

"NEPLP has prepared a stabilization plan for electronic mass media during the Covid-19 crisis. It proposes ensuring that commercial radio and TV works during the emergency and guaranteeing that the public continue to receive quality and varied information," said Jānis Eglītis, a member of the watchdog.

According to Eglītis, the program will allow the media to keep journalists and talk show hosts, and other creatives, on their payroll.

Most of the money would be divvied up to ensure uninterrupted content, with the bulk of the support meant to pay journalists and other content creators. 

Under the plan, the broadcast licence cost will also be revoked for commercial media.

Media would be able to apply for contests held by the NEPLP to have their costs covered.

Afterwards, the broadcast watchdog is to create a similar plan for public-service media, of which the LSM news portals in Latvian, English and Russian are part. 

According to LTV and Latvian Radio estimates, advertising revenue could fall by about €1.4 million this year.

Earlier, journalists voiced alarm over falling advertisement revenues, with some companies saying their have fallen 80% since the start of the crisis. 

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