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Latvijas Radio wants to resolve crisis at LR2 with funding from state budget

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The board of Latvijas Radio wants to resolve the situation with Latvijas Radio 2 using additional state funding, as confirmed by members of the board.

The shortage of funds affects not only Latvijas Radio News Service but all of the radio station’s branches, admits the company’s board.

The average age of LR2 employees is EUR 904 before taxes. With additional projects and bonuses the amount reaches EUR 988. In other channels, wages are EUR 100 higher, explains Latvijas Radio management.

The budget request for 2019 – nearly a million, requested for next year’s wages – is intended to raise wages for the entire team of Latvijas Radio, reminds the board, adding that the biggest wage increase is planned for content creators. This means programme hosts of LR2.

The board did add, however, that this does not mean wages for all employees will be increased equally.

The increase will be calculated based on two factors – equalize wages between channels for people performing similar jobs and job complexity.

As previously reported, the team of Latvijas Radio 2 has said that the unwillingness of the management of Latvijas Radio to pay attention and solve the lasing crisis at Latvijas Radio 2 could result in the death of a unique radio, the team at LR2 says.

LR2 employees have sent an open letter to Latvian state officials, informing them of the situation at the radio station. «Our experience allows us to say that it is necessary to take immediate action to ensure the radio station whose motto is «songs in native language» is able to continue existing in Latvia,» the letter mentions.

Employees of LR2 stress that the radio station is the most tuned in in Latvia. However, it is also the smallest of its kind and the most poorly paid part of Latvijas Radio, with 11 full-time employees, eight of which engage in live broadcasts.

The open letter also details the nuances of how wages are calculated, stressing that the wages of programme hosts at LR2 have been low and bonuses large for years, which is different than what is found at other Latvijas Radio channels even though the «bonus» is basically part of their wage that could not be covered using state budget funds.

The wage matter was promised to be resolved by the previous and current management of Latvijas Radio, the letter mentions, adding that it still has not been resolved. A year ago, the radio channel lost the funding earned thanks to previous cooperative programmes, narrowing LR2 content-creation capabilities.

LR2 employees are not happy that every single one of them has to serve as the producer, music editor, operator, and journalist, while employees of other Latvijas Radio channels work as teams: in tandem with operators and, sometimes, multiple producers and music editors.

This situation «robs us of any motivation to try, work with creativeness and enthusiasm, because there are no options to grow».

«The current management does not consider it necessary to abolish the old system. […] With the inefficient remuneration system and the principle of working only within wage limits, content is reduced to broadcasting Latvian music and announcing time, as well as couple of early morning shows, audience congratulation requests, etc.,» LR2 employees explain the situation.

The team of LR2 believes the board’s unwillingness to pay attention and resolve the lasting crisis at LR2 is proven by the fact that after director Armins Ronis no selection process was held – Latvijas Radio 5 director Ilva Milzarāja was picked as the head.

«LR2 main principles and programme whose main value is maintaining and promoting Latvian identity using a careful selection of songs and presentation method differ greatly from LR5. Such a division of duties raises concerns that in the future there could be a merge of the two channels, which would spell death for a unique radio station in Europe,» the letter stresses.

Latvijas Radio News Service has voiced no-confidence to the board of Latvijas Radio and has requested all members to step down.

National Electronic Mass Media Council chairperson Dace Ķezbere had previously said that the council has asked the board of Latvijas Radio to submit detailed explanations how the requested EUR 100 000 will be used. The board is also expected to explain what kind of budget is needed, as well as explain how the money will be used and what effect it could have on budget requests in future years.

«Any questions regarding the size of wages or their increase have to be viewed in the context of the entire radio. We have requested information on priority activities. We have also approved the request for increase of wages by EUR 998 000. We agree this is correct and the request should be accepted. Money is not being requested merely for one branch, but for the entire radio station,» said Ķezbere.

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