Funding solution found for English and Russian-language services of Latvia’s public media

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The government coalition has found a solution enabling the further operation of Latvian Radio 4 (LR 4) and lsm.lv’s English and Russian language versions, Prime Minister Krisjanis Karins (New Unity) told journalists after today’s extraordinary government meeting on the 2019 budget.

Concerns about the further existence of these services were removed thanks to the common work of all the parties concerned, the premier said. He added that questions about technical details regarding this matter should be asked to the Finance Ministry.

Culture Minister Dace Melbarde (National Alliance) indicated that money has been found in the society integration and cohesion policy program to ensure the operations of the public media in the same amount as last year. Funding has also been provided for broadcasting in Latgale, the minister said.

Asked about support to Latvian Television, Melbarde said that lawmakers, who are currently at work on a new public media law, are also looking for ways to ensure that the funding to the public media is gradually increased. One of the options might be tying the size of this funding to Latvia’s GDP, the minister said.

The coalition has also agreed not to exceed the budget deficit approved for 2019.

As reported, Latvia’s public media and their shareholders on Wednesday raised alarm over a possible closure of LR4, the Russian-language service of Latvian Radio, and the English and Russian versions of lsm.lv public media portal.

During a Saeima Human Rights and Public Affairs Committee meeting on Wednesday, National Electronic Mass Media Council (NEPLP) council member Ivars Abolina said that signals were received from Tuesday’s Cabinet meeting that financing for the National Identity, Civic Society and Integration Policy Plan, which maintains the mentioned platforms, could not be allocated the necessary financing in 2019.

Funding for LR 4 and lsm.lv’s foreing language versions have been allocated from this program for several years. This year, EUR 191,000 will be needed to fund LR 4, and EUR 121,000 to fund lsm.lv’s English and Russian language versions. Furthermore, not only the already mentioned media outlets could be impacted, but also the regional Latgale Media Program, which would cost EUR 71,000 this year.

Abolins explained that it the necessary financing is not allocated, all of the mentioned media outlets could be closed down.

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