Amendments to Latvian law makes it possible to oppose propaganda channels


In mid-June, Latvia amended the Electronic Media Act, adding conditions to be taken into account when granting or revoking a transmission license. For example, a media channel’s license can be revoked if its owner is sanctioned.

News about the implementation of the amendment also appeared last week. Namely, Latvia banned on its territory the television channels RT, RT HD, RT Arabic, RT Spanish, RT Documentary HD and RT Documentary, which belong to the Russian Rossia Segodnja network.

The Electronic Media Council gained more strength

In Latvia, the Latvian National Electronic Media Council (NEPLP) banned the transmission of RT channels. The decision was based on the current Latvian Electronic Media Act.

The amendments to the law gave NEPLP greater rights then they had previously as well as the power to act decisively.

The latest amendment significantly added to the list of conditions that may lead to the media license not being granted or subsequently revoked.

For example, a condition was added that the license could be revoked if the channel owner was subject to international or Latvian national sanctions. This provided a suitable opportunity to revoke the transmission licenses of RT channels, insofar as Dmitry Kisseljov is subject to EU sanctions.

With the same change, the authorization can be refused or subsequently revoked if the channel owner poses a threat to national security or public order and safety.

The Latvian National Electronic Media Council, in conjunction with the Electronic Media Act, appears to be an effective modern combination to combat propaganda, misinformation, as well as the transmission of inappropriate media content.

In addition to issuing and monitoring transmission licenses, NEPLP, for example, constantly monitors the media channels broadcast in Latvia, monitoring their compliance with the law.

The Electronic Media Act, which is one of the foundations of NEPLP’s activities, is an exhaustive and one-size-fits-all set of principles for media operation and content regulation, which governs licensing, advertising rules and restrictions on (inappropriate) channel content.

Lithuania follows Latvia
In the second half of last week, Lithuania also announced that, like Latvia, it was preparing to restrict the transmission of RT channels on its territory. In Lithuania, the Lithuanian Television and Radio Commission (LRNK) plans to ban the transmission of RT channels, which is based on the position to be formulated by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on the implementation of EU sanctions. The Lithuanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, for its part, is awaiting clarification from the European Commission that EU sanctions do not only concern blacklisted individuals, but also companies controlled by them.

Estonia needs assistance in following
Of the three Baltic nations, currently only Estonia has not declared any action regarding the restriction of RT channels.

Propastop has repeatedly written about the need for a media regulator in Estonia. At the moment, we do not have such monitoring and supervision capacity. There are also shortcomings that limit the current laws.

Aside from the hostile propaganda of another country, watching false information run amok in the electronic information space, it is clear that Estonia must significantly modernize its ability to combat it.

Estonia has escaped major fake news campaigns so far, but it is worthwhile here to learn from the mistakes of others. Both Lithuania and Latvia have experienced the impact of fake news on society, where fake news portals were able to operate for a long time before an opportunity was found to close them.

The activities of MV Lehti in Finland and the attacks against Jessikka Aro could also be taken as study material.

Last week, we wrote about a joint venture between the Money Laundering Data Bureau and the Estonian Internet Foundation to restrict the Sputnik Estonia and Baltnews domains owned by Rossia Segodnja, but this is also just a cosmetic change.

Photo: Grant Neufeld/Flickr/CC