Latvia – life in Russia’s shadow | DW Documentary
Latvian experts argue that there is no political motive here, just the repeaters violated local legislation
Since February 10, broadcasting of 16 TV channels has been banned in Latvia. The decision was made by the National Council for Electronic Media (NEPLP). The ban included, in particular, REN TV Baltic, NTV Mir Baltic, as well as a number of channels broadcasting series and films, both Russian and foreign..
Chairman of the board Ivars Abolins explained this by the fact that NEPLP failed to find out who represents these channels in Latvia, which means that it is not clear who gave their consent to the distribution of their programs on the territory of the country. In addition, the owners of the TV channels did not express a desire to continue working for the Latvian TV viewers. Commenting on the decision of the National Council for Electronic Media, Ivars Abolins said: “In order to protect the Latvian information space, NEPLP will be strengthened to check all programs in the register of relayed programs, and if it detects similar cases, it will act accordingly.”.
As the portal Delfi.lv reminds, last summer the Seimas of Latvia adopted amendments that allow NEPLP to revoke the permission to broadcast and retransmit channels that are associated with persons included in the EU sanctions lists, as well as with those who threaten the national security of the country or are criminal organizations. In Latvia, the broadcasts of the Russian TV channels of the RT group controlled by Dmitry Kiselev, as well as the TV channels of the Yuri Kovalchuk holding, have already been stopped.
The correspondent of the Russian service “Voice of America” asked the Latvian experts for comments.
“The degree of hatred in the rhetoric of a number of Russian TV presenters was simply outrageous.”
Chief editor of the Kompromat.lv portal Leonid Yakobson believes that a significant part of Latvian television viewers, regardless of nationality, willingly watched Russian-made television series. “I watch some of them myself, because in recent years, Russian TV shows have really improved in quality,” he admits. And he continues, – now I will not watch them, but there is nothing wrong with that “.
As for the news blocks of the now banned TV channels, according to Yakobson: “It was hate speech. And the degree of hatred contained in the rhetoric of a number of Russian TV presenters was simply outrageous. And I think it was the right decision (to ban information programs – A.P.) “.
The editor-in-chief of the Kompromat.lv portal believes that the next 16 Russian TV channels have come under a ban in Latvia because of the managers and owners who are on the EU sanctions list. “I repeat, there is logic in this, and I support the ban. It is another matter that young people who want to watch these TV channels will use the Internet, while older people will simply be deprived of such an opportunity, ”the interlocutor of the Voice of America notes. And he adds: “In my opinion, this is a response to the events taking place in Russia. When Navalny was sent to prison, it provoked a reaction, and this must also be taken into account in this context. “.
“It is easier for our officials to prohibit something than to act pragmatically”
Professor of Riga Stradins University, Doctor of Information and Communication Sciences, media expert has a slightly different opinion about this situation Sergey Kruks (Sergejs Kruks).
“Latvian policy is as follows: to show that they are reacting to the situation, it is easier for our officials to prohibit something than to act pragmatically,” he said in a conversation with the Voice of America Russian Service.
According to Dr. Crookes, this issue has been on the agenda of Latvian politics since 2014 and has been actively discussed in the press. At the same time, Latvian intellectuals and representatives of the liberal factions in the Seimas insisted on developing criteria by which one or another media should be banned. “The other side, with a conservative-nationalist disposition, demanded to close it without providing any arguments. Conclusion: for six years of the requirement of clear criteria and clear argumentation, nothing of the kind has happened, “says a professor at the University. Stradins.
As a result, according to Serhiy Kruks, supporters of the ban decided to use the economic sanctions imposed after the annexation of Crimea by Russia and aggressive actions in the southeastern regions of Ukraine as a pretext. “They have no methodology for analysis (of Russian TV channels). They take a sample, relatively speaking, of Soloviev-Kiselev, or take certain moments in history where (Latvia and Russia) have disagreements. And they make a general conclusion that all Russian media are just like that, so TV channels should be closed, ”the media expert said..
Sergei Kruks makes a helpless gesture when asked by the Voice of America correspondent to tell what reaction the closure of the channels of Dmitry Kiselev and Yuri Kovalchuk caused in Latvian society: “You see, Latvian society is generally very passive. It reacts in kitchens, and this reaction is expressed in a chronic distrust of the authorities. By the way, in this respect we have the lowest indicator in the European Union. And, judging by public opinion, this translates into anti-liberal sentiments: look, they call themselves liberals, and they struggle with the word without arguments, “summarizes Sergei Kruks.
“These 16 channels turned out to be ownerless in our country, and this should not be”
Journalist of the Latvian edition “Kas Jauns” (“What’s new”) Karlis Sergeants (Kārlis Seržants) announced that the next step would be to shutdown the RTR-Russia TV channel in Latvia, which is expected on February 15th. “The fact is that back in July last year, RTR-Russia received a warning that a corresponding procedure had been launched against it. And in this warning it was said that if unfriendly attacks continue in the channel’s programs, then the shutdown will occur. And there were given specific examples of such attacks – for example, calls to conquer Ukraine. Or “to hang Svetlana Tikhanovskaya in the center of Minsk” (words by V. Zhirinovsky – AP). Or that all the Baltic states are so-called “failed states”, so “they need to feel what Russian tanks are on their streets”. All this was in the programs “60 minutes” and “Evening with Vladimir Solovyov”. And for each such case, all records and related documents were presented. And since February 15, this channel will be shut down for a year, “he said in an interview with the Voice of America Russian Service..
And he added: “For me personally, this is not surprising, and I believe that it should have been done for a long time. They (the presenters of RTR) say they represent a variety of opinions, but these are not opinions, but calls for war. “.
As for the shutdown of a package of 16 TV channels, among which there are, for example, “Indian Cinema” and “Box TV”, Karlis Sergeants emphasizes that this has nothing to do with their content, since two thirds of them are purely entertainment in nature, without any -or politicians. “But according to our laws, if a broadcast from any neighboring country is carried out to the territory of Latvia, then we must have a representative – a natural or legal person who carries out this relay, is responsible for it and has an appropriate license,” the journalist explained.
And he added that until February 1, the company SIA “TEM LV” had such a license, which lost it after the specified period. This was reported to the National Council for Electronic Media. “It turns out that these 16 channels have turned out to be ownerless, and this should not be. But I believe that if a new repeater appears, which will be able to present all the necessary documents, then all these channels will most likely resume their work, “Karlis Sergeants emphasized..
Leonid Yakobson, during his commentary, noted with regret that the quality of Latvian television is at a low level compared to Russian. Karlis Sergeants agrees with this and adds: “We have two public television channels, there are also commercial channels. But we are not in a position to compete with RTR and the First Baltic Channel. There, so much money is spent on all ideological programs and on various shows that we cannot reach such a level. Of course, we will try, but our budget is incomparable with what Russian TV channels have ”.