Changes have come to Latvia’s press market. Owners of Mediju nams publishing house, including once the chief editor of the company Armands Puce, have sold it to a person largely unknown to media – Nauris Kapostins. In the past, he was not a particularly successful businessman. This is why many believe his ties to Lembergs’ family are far more interesting.
Mediju nams was founded 14 years ago following the decision of the board of Preses nams. Over the years, has changed hands multiple times from Ventspils Nafta to Latvian Shipping company’s subsidiary Lasco Investments. 6.5 years ago the publishing house was bought by MN Mediji, which was founded by Armands Puce and Uldis Dreiblats, as well as once the vice-president of Preses nams Lilita Seimuskane, as reported by De Facto programme of LTV.
Mediju nams currently publishes Neatkarīgā Rīta Avīze, several magazines (Sporta Avīze and Vakara Ziņas), offers photo agency services and maintains an internet portal. The company’s base capital reaches EUR 13 million. Last year’s losses are estimated at EUR 800,000. According to Mediju nams’ budget estimates, losses may reach EUR 900,000 in 2016. This can be explained with the lasting decline in the market for printed press.
But even in such a grim situation the company has managed to find a buyer. Mediju nams’ announcement mentions Nauris Kapostins as the buyer. He is best known for co-hosting the Legendary hunters programme with Roberts Klimovics.
Kapostins had first appeared in spring and extended such a good offer to MN Mediji that they agreed to accept it after a short time.
«The offer was mutually beneficial to both sides. We came to an agreement on exact numbers during talks. It is confidential information I do not wish to disclose,» – said Kapostins.
Armands Puce refused to provide an interview. He did admit, however, that the market’s situation is not brilliant. He added that he was ready to sell his shares even earlier.
Lilita Seimuskane agreed to sell her shares once one of her partners told her about Kapostins’ offer. She was convinced by the price and the fact that Mediju nams is in dire need of investments.
«The finance model that was present in the company for the past 6.5 years was too was too heavy for us. At the same time, we have become emotionally attached to workers and the company. We also understand that it is unlikely that we could come across a better offer in relation to optimization and investments,» – explains Seimuskane.
Kapostins did not explain he reasons behind his decision to enter the media business. «It is all part of the process. There is no reason to see it only as media business. It is a business project as a whole and there are digits, mathematics and indexes that require improvements.»
Kapostins plans to improve indexes with new products in the digital environment. He does not plan to stop publishing NRA. «There is a lot of work ahead, specifically in the digital environment. We do plan to keep printed media as an important platform for expression of public opinions.»
One of the special sections of NRA is dedicated to the court process involving Aivars Lembergs and his son Anrijs. One of its authors is the now former co-owner of Mediju nams Uldis Dreiblats. Articles usually cover a lot of what Lembergs’ lawyers have to say. Decisions and actions of the prosecution are regularly criticized.
Belief that the newspaper is under influence of Lembergs is merely a stereotype, says Saimuskane, who is an old associate of Lembers from Ventspils Development Agency. «This stereotype formed in Diena, when it was managed by Sarmite Elerte. Since then this stereotype has been thoroughly cultivated. It is very difficult to combat this stereotype, because it has remarkably deep and old roots,» – says Seimuskane.
Combating this stereotype has been particularly hard, considering that Aivars Lembergs’ son-in-law Janis Austrins worked in the board of Mediju nams until recently. Anrijs Lembergs married two years ago. His wife is Liene Kapostina. It is no coincidence that she shares the surname of the new owner – Nauris Kapostins is her brother.
In addition, Kapostins admits that he has known Austrins for a long time. He does say, however, that this fact in unimportant: «You’re looking for sensational news where there is none and you’re trying to tie together cases that have no correlation to one another.»
Kapostins claims he bought Mediju nams with his own money, and that he does not intend to represent anyone. When asked about Kapostins, Aivars Lembergs replied in a short form: «I don’t know the situation. […] I was present at the wedding, but I don’t know him.»
Several years ago, Anda Rozukalne, head of Communication Studies Department of Riga Stradins University, had researched the ties that bind owners of different media in her book. Her conclusion was that official owners behind media are nothing more than a storefront to hide influential beneficiaries. Her commentary on the sale of Mediju nams Rozukalne had sent in an e-mail from USA: «The deal seems similar to the restructuring of multiple companies part of Diena, when the actual owner delegates authority over the media to a trusted person, usually a closely related businessman that can be easily used to extend one’s reach. It is clear that this businessman is incapable of making decisions on his own. His business career is impossible without his owner. His knowledge and experience in media are very much close to absolute zero.»
Media researcher also emphasizes that selling the company in a time when it works with losses proves what is already clear: «Politically influenced media companies cannot function successfully without support from wealthy owners. Combining politically influenced information with professional information, making look like a company is an important player in media – these approaches simply do not work. Business losses are a price that has to be paid.»
Rozukalne also mentioned a particularly negative sign. There had been media professionals among previous owners of Mediju nams, but the choice of the new owner proves the actual beneficiary does not care how much potential managers work in the industry, because the only thing important to him is the ability to influence contents.