bnn.lv Latviski   bnn-news.com English   bnn-news.ru По-русски
Sunday 20.05.2018 | Name days: Venta, Salvis, Selva
LithuaniaLithuania

Head of powerful Seimas committee: certain media outlets can be stripped of licenses

FaceBook
Twitter
Draugiem
print
(No Ratings Yet)

Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RU

Linas Jegelevičius for the BNN

In a new twist of the prolonged scandal over the influence of the powerful business holding MG Baltic on Lithuania‘s politics for years through its own television channels LNK, BTV, TV1, Info TV and Liuks!, Vytautas Bakas, chairman of the powerful parliamentary Committee on National Security and Defence (NGSK) in a TV interview poured gasoline on the fire, proposing that certain media organisations acting against the state’s interests must have their licenses revoked.

«If the media threatens the constitutional foundation of state and weakens democracy, then the media outlet ought not to have license,» Bakas emphasised.

The month-long MG Baltic scandal dates back to late April, when then embattled, corruption and influence peddling charges fighting Eligijus Masiulis (he is former chairman of Lithuania‘s Liberal Movement) made public some of his private correspondence with Lithuanian president Dalia Grybauskaitė.

A barrage of emails reveals that MG Baltic has exuberantly meddled in the appointing of key state figures, like a former prosecutor general, for example.

Some, however, notice that the head-of-state has also been too engaged in the Seimas politics. Grybauskaitė, for instance, has asked Masiulis in one of her emails to «give regards» to MG Baltic and called Tomas Dapkus, a journalist in one of the MG Baltic-owned TV channels, «a hound» that needs to be kept at bay with the new prosecutor general appointment procedures underway.

In what many believe was an attempt to shift the bad spotlight on the president, VSD, Lithuania‘s State Security Department (VSD) aired extensive excerpts of the conversations of top MG Baltic heads and especially those of Dapkus, the journalist.

In a report to the Seimas, the State Security Department says that MG Baltic, in pursuit of its interests, had developed a long-term strategy that can be regarded as destructive activity posting a threat to national security.

Some, however, chastise the intelligence chief body for having executing the investigations against MG Baltic for years. It turned out that VSD had eavesdropped Dapkus for nearly a dozen years.

Bakas’ controversial proposal has not been left unnoticed by Dainius Radzevičius, the chairman of Lithuania’s Union of Journalists, LŽS.

«The initiative, if realised legislatively, can have far-reaching reverberations to Lithuania internationally,» Radzevičius underscored.

Speaking to BNN, Radzevičius said that no VSD report cannot entail «legal consequences» to Lithuanian media and, specifically, the TV channels owned by the holding as only courts serve justice in Lithuania.

«Damage (to media) has been done, however. The VSD report highlighted anew the too intricate entanglement of Lithuanian politics, business and media,» Radzevičius emphasised.

According to him, ideally, the politicians and the businessmen ought to stop using media as a means to publicise their views and serve their business interests, however doubted whether it is doable.

«The entire business environment has to become a lot more transparent to severe the ties with the media of the kind. Secondly, media’s self-regulation mechanism in Lithuania ought to become a lot more stronger,» Radzevičius underlined.

In his words, the new registry of Lithuania’s media outlets including all information on media company owners and advertisers will make Lithuanian media more transparent.

It will also contain information on the breaches of journalism ethics by Lithuanian media organisations.

«When in operation, registry will give a whole lot better picture of our media,» Radzevičius is convinced.

Vytis Jurkonis, head of NGO «Freedom House», however, suggested that he shares the NSGK chairman’s concerns which, he says, is «absolutely» understandable to him.

«The influence of business and the problems of transparency in the Lithuanian media map have been mentioned in several international reports and in many international conferences…Index of independent media in Lithuania is not as dramatic as in Poland, however it is not as stable as in Estonia,» the NGO head noted.

Amid a parliamentary investigation into business groups’ possible influence on political processes, Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis said that he sees no grounds for taking drastic measures against media organizations controlled by large businesses and calls for relying on the media’s self-regulation bodies.

«Let’s not rush until we have the committee’s findings. If some problem areas are revealed, as far as the media are concerned, decisions that will have to be taken or could be taken should not be tough or drastic,» Skvernelis told reporters on Monday, May 14.

«I believe, however, that the media will be able to do a lot through self-regulation, self-government. I don’t think that today we should speak about radical or tough measures,» he added.

Meanwhile, Edmundas Vaitekūnas, chairman of the Lithuanian Radio and Television Commission (LRTK), says that there is no clear legal mechanism for revoking an issued broadcasting license if there are signs of activities running counter to national security.

However, the media watchdog would consider suspending a license if a special commission provided such information, he added.

Amid the scandal, Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaitė has said this week that MG Baltic is an example of oligarchic activity, but there is no legal basis, at least for now, for stripping LNK, a TV channel owned by the business group, of its license.

«A classical definition of oligarchs is when a business merges with politics and runs its own media to pursue its interests, which are not always compatible with the public interest. Thus, we can see a classical example of this in MG Baltic’s activities,» she said in an interview aired by Žinių Radijas on Tuesday, May 15.

«However, I’d like to say it very clearly that Lithuania is a state ruled by law and we have laws that lay down the basis for when a license may be revoked or suspended,» the president said.

«Therefore, I can answer very responsibly that, in the current situation, the law does not provide for such a basis for suspending the license, at least with regard to LNK,» she added.

Earlier this month, with Masiulis‘ emails out, Grybauskaitė regretted that «unfortunately, there are journalists who are becoming a tool for or a representative of interests groups, lobbyists etc».

Former MG Baltic Vice President Raimondas Kurlianskis is suspected of bribery and influence peddling, and Dapkus has been questioned as a witness in this political corruption case.

The Committee on National Security and Defence’s probe into unlawful influence on political processes in Lithuania involves five to six interest groups, according to Bakas, the Committee chairman.

«(The available material) shows interest groups aiming to establishing themselves or influencing the strategic sectors of the state. These centres of power have always been in place, only their names have changed,» Bakas accentuated.


Leave a reply

Week in Lithuania. Liberal Movement to turn to court over VSD statements

The board of Lithuania's Liberal Movement has decided to turn to court over information published by the State Security Department, allegedly damaging the party's reputation.

BNN summary of the week: distorted state administration, Liepājas metalurgs recovery, and Latvia unemployment level

BNN offers a summary of this week’s topical news in a variety of categories: Change; Growth; Business; Fight; Future; Opinion

New approach to combating drunk drivers – forced correction programme

Latvia’s Justice Ministry reports that the administrative penalties reform proposes introducing stricter punishments for drunk drivers. If a person is caught drunk driving, their license would be confiscated. On top of that, to recover the license, that person would have to pass a social correction programme.

Latvian MEP to «cause a scandal» where he can to stop school reform

Members of the European Parliament Andrejs Mamikins and Miroslavs Mitrofanovs have gathered support from 114 of their fellow MEPs to request the Latvian government and Saeima to review the already approved amendments to the Education Law and General Education Law that govern realization of the national minorities’ school reform, as confirmed by Mamikins.

Germany criticises U.S. attempts to block Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline

As to the controversial Nord Stram 2 Russian gas pipeline via Baltic sea to Germany, the German Economy has evaluated that American attempts to block it could be aimed at increasing U.S. a planned Russia-Germany gas pipeline to increase its own energy exports.

Number of complaints about taxi services at Riga International Airport on a rise

The number of complaints about taxi services at Riga International Airport continues to increase, said the airport’s board chairperson Ilona Līce in an interview to 900 seconds programme of LNT.

Ryanair sees Estonia as important market, considers local hub option

Irish low-fare airline Ryanair considers Estonia an important market, the firm's chief executive Michael O'Leary noted while visiting Tallinn earlier in the week.

Minister: UN should act to call violators of international law to justice

«The United Nation Security Council, as the main institution maintaining peace and security, has a special responsibility, because its activities affect compliance with international law,» says Latvia’s Foreign Affairs Minister Edgars Rinkēvičs.

Banks to report private persons whose account turnover exceeds EUR 15,000

From 18 May onward, banks will have to report private persons whose annual account turnover exceeds EUR 15,000, as provided by the Cabinet of Ministers’ supported order, under which the State Revenue Service is to be provided with information about a private person’s turnover and balance.

Baltic States request expanding NATO’s battalion with air and naval forces

Baltic States plan to request expanding international NATO battalion with air and naval forces, as confirmed by Lithuanian Foreign Affairs Minister Lino Linkevičiaus, who met with US President’s National Security Advisor John R. Bolton in Washington alongside his Latvian and Estonian colleagues.

Poland uncovers Russian hybrid war networks

Poland has detained a Russian national suspected of working with accomplices to stimulate social tension with neighbouring Ukraine and neutralised two Russian hybrid war networks, the Polish Internal Security agency has stated.

Weather in Latvia to remain moderately warm in Latvia; precipitation to be low

On Friday, 18 May, some areas of Latvia will experience thunderstorms. However, starting from the end of the week, weather will become dry again with little precipitation. Rain cloud will form above Latvia in the second half of the week, as reported by Latvian Environment, Geology and Meteorology Centre.

Construction output rise in Latvia was more rapid than EU’s average level in Q4 2017

Compared to last year’s October-December, Latvia’s construction output in Q4 2017 grew 19.9%, which is a much more rapid rise than the average in the European Union, according to data published by Eurostat on Thursday, 17 May.

Latvian Saeima’s committee does not support Kušners’ re-approval in Bank of Latvia council

On Thursday, 17 May, Saeima’s Budget and Finance Committee decided not to recommend Edvards Kušners for a repeated term in the council of the Bank of Latvia.

Control Service Chief: wages in the service should be twice as large

Wages in the Anti-Money Laundering or Control Service should be equal to what is paid to people working in the Finance and Capital Market Commission, so twice as large as it is now, said Control Service’s Chief Ilze Znotiņa in an interview to Ir magazine.

SEB Bank’s factoring portfolio up 41% in the first quarter of 2018

In addition, similar to the volume of goods and services of Latvia’s exporting companies, which had increased unexpectedly rapidly in Q1 2018 – by 15%, there has also been a significant increase for the number of factoring deals.

Latvia experienced a rapid increase in registration of new cars in January-April period

In the first four months of 2018, Latvia has experienced a more rapid increase of newly registered cars than the average in the European Union, according to information from European Automobile Manufacturers' Association.

In Slovak Kuciak's investigation, phone of his colleague journalist confiscated

As Slovak law enforcement continues to investigate the murder of Ján Kuciak, prosecutors have confiscated the smart phone of a colleague of the investigative journalist – a move condemned by the country's media organisations.

Nurses’ wages up 50-70%, but still far from competitive

Wages of nurses of Pauls Stradins Clinical University Hospital have grown 50-60%. However, there is still a long way to go before they become competitive, said Stradins Hospital’s head nurse Eva Cela in an interview to Latvijas Radio.

Head of powerful Seimas committee: certain media outlets can be stripped of licenses

In a new twist of the prolonged scandal over the influence of the powerful business holding MG Baltic on Lithuania‘s politics for years through its own television channels LNK, BTV, TV1, Info TV and Liuks!, Vytautas Bakas, chairman of the powerful parliamentary Committee on National Security and Defence in a TV interview poured gasoline on the fire, proposing that certain media organisations acting against the state's interests must have their licenses revoked.

Second Rail Baltica railway line construction project announced in Latvia

Continuing the realization of activities associated with Rail Baltica project, RB Rail has announced the next procurement process, as confirmed by the company.

Tartu railway fire partly stops trains at Estonian second city

In Estonia, railway traffic to an from the city of Tartu has partly stopped and been substituted with buses after a signal box fire.

Coface: signs in business sector point towards economic decline risks

There is currently a rather optimistic situation across all business sectors and the country’s economy as a whole. However, considering the positive environment, the question for how long this period of economic growth will continue remains topical, notes international credit risk insurance company Coface manager in Baltic States Mantvīds Štareika.

Argentine prepares for Russia with advice to approach «Russian girls»

«How to stand a chance with a Russian girl» - the Argentine Football Association has been criticised for giving such advice in a manual to journalists travelling to the football World Cup in Russia.

KPV LV: Latvia has too many industry councils, which distorts state administration

Latvia has too many industry councils, which distorts state administration. The coalition council should be liquidated entirely, says KPV LV co-chairman Atis Zakatistovs.

Newest comments