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Monday 22.07.2019 | Name days: Marija, Marika, Marina

Change of owners for Radio SWH – final decision smothered by Latvia’s previous government

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Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RUFailing to get elected to the next government, Latvia’s ex-prime minister Māris Kučinskis failed to finish important decisions that would have benefited society, such as the MPC abolishment matter and doctors’ wages, which he gracefully left in the hands of the next government. He also failed to pick the next head of the State Revenue Service and left a lot of unanswered questions in relation to the education reform. 

However, at the same time he managed to take the decision in regards to the change of owners for Radio SWH with him, effectively smothering the issue altogether.

This is not just about picking the buyer for 80% of Radio SWH shares but also rejecting buyers. As previously mentioned by Radio SWH co-owner Jānis Šipkēvics, the current majority shareholder received indications that the radio station should be sold to the largest Russian propaganda media network Russia Today. Was the fact that instead of Russia Today shares were offered to a company that does not think too kindly of «one particular Latvian Napoleon» an influence over Kučinskis’ government’s priorities in this? Was this the reason why such an important topic was tackled last, just as the government was stepping down?

It is also possible Radio SWH would not praise Kučinskis’ image as much as Neatkarīgā Rīta Avīze newspaper and news portal, which put a great deal of emphasis not on the quality of work and accomplishments of Kučinskis’ government but rather on his decision to gift his colleagues pens as he was leaving his post as Latvia’s prime minister. They also reported on Kučinskis revealing the Christmas tree with 3D decorations in the government building. It is therefore possible this is the reason why a media, that continues reporting objective information, including criticisms, is branded a «threat to national security».

It is perhaps not worth reminding the name of the main recipient of Neatkarīgā Rīta Avīze and news portal’s compliments. Both of them are subordinated to SIA Mediju nams publishing house, which worked with turnover of EUR 1,717,708 and losses worth EUR 836,313 in 2017.

One particular associate of these media organizations has recently celebrated a ten-year anniversary of being on the accused bench and has received support funding from the state budget during Kučinskis’ government. Is this the reason why Kučinskis’ government did not consider their potential risk for national security?

The fact that the potential buyer was mentioned by Russia Today it seems was missed by both the government, when making the decision regarding the change of owners, and LTV De facto programme, when composing its report full of suspicion on Media Support’s desire to acquire Radio SWH without even mentioning Russia Today in its 24 March programme.

It is also worth mentioning that LTV fired one of its long-standing employees – Harijs Lavkinaitis – last week over the scandal involving the use of one of their studios by Russia Today. LTV calls Russia Today a media that is «hostile to Latvia and having close ties with Kremlin». However, when LTV reported on the situation with Radio SWH, the potential involvement of Russia Today was not mentioned at all.

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