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International Internet Magazine. Baltic States news & analytics Saturday, 28.11.2020, 13:07

New public service media law passes final reading in Saeima

BC, Riga , 20.11.2020.Print version
Saeima today passed in the final reading a new law on electronic public service media and their management, intended to "ensure an effective and transparent management of the public service media, their independence and public accountability, as well as to facilitate their high quality operation", writes LETA/BNS.

The question as to who should appoint the editors in chief of the public service media and whether the public service media should produce content also in minority languages were the  most extensively debated questions at today's parliament session.

The new law defines the strategic goals, legal status and operations, as well as the basic principles of financing, management and supervision of the public service media. 

"The law is voluminous and of vital importance to Latvia's public service media. It provides a new architecture of the public service media. Finally, the functions of the National Electronic Mass Media Council will be divided so that the council is no longer in charge of both finances and supervision," said MP Artuss Kaimins, chairman of the Saeima Human Rights and Public Affairs Committee, which was responsible for the adoption of the legislation. 

According to the new law, public service media are 100 percent state-owned capital companies. The newly created Public Electronic Mass Media Council (SEPLP) will be the holder of the state-owned shares in the public service media. 

SEPLP will have three members - one delegated by the president of Latvia, one by Saeima and one by the Council for the Implementation of the Memorandum of Co-operation between Non-governmental Organizations and the Cabinet. 

The board of a public service medium will include up to three members, elected by SEPLP. The board members will be banned from influencing the editorial decisions of the media. Editors in chief, who will be in charge of the public service media, will be nominated by the board and elected by SEPLP for a five-year term.

The new law also stipulates that the annual subsidies to the public service media cannot be smaller than in the previous year. All kinds of commercials will be banned from public service media content, although there can be several exceptions to this rule. 

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