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Saturday 14.12.2019 | Name days: Gaisma, Auseklis

No «tangible contribution». Latvian Association of Journalists proposes dissolving NEPLP

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NEPLP members Aurēlija Ieva Druviete ( L), Patriks Grīva (M) and vice-chairman Ivars Āboliņš (R)

Latvian Association of Journalists (LAJ) has asked the 13th Saeima to discuss the possibility of evaluating the work performed by members of the National Electronic Mass Media Council (NEPLP) and replace old council members with new ones.

LAJ believes the current composition of NEPLP is not competent enough or aimed at constructive cooperation in order to resolve topical problems in the media environment. NEPLP has managed to engage in a conflict with the majority of members of the industry, and there are no signs to suggest the situation could improve in the near future, the association explains.

This is why LAJ invites the Saeima to dismiss NEPLP members Dace Ķezbere, Ivars Āboliņš, Patriks Grīva and Ieva Aurēlija Druviete, and pick a new council capable of working professionally.

«It is clear the competence of these people is insufficient to provide a tangible contribution to the media environment,» LAJ comments on the current composition of NEPLP.

The association also invites the parliament to immediately develop and introduce a new public media management model.

LAJ stresses that NEPLP has lost the trust of media organizations. On top of that, there are doubts about the reputation of certain members of the council. As an example the association mentions the non-confidence Latvijas Radio voiced to NEPLP member Ivars Āboliņš in 2017. This decisions still has not been withdrawn. Āboliņš earned this distrust with his rushed amendments to the Public Order and Radio Channels Format. Journalists criticized Āboliņš for breach of editorial’s autonomy and ruining the reputation of the radio News Service.

LAJ reminds that in 2018 NEPLP had dismissed the board of LTV with no justifiable reasons. At the beginning of 2019, the council had breached good management principles when organizing a personnel selection process and ended up in a conflict with LTV. As a result, council members picked through the process stepped down and the council itself was diminished to one member.

LAJ also points to the fact that NEPLP has commenced administrative cases against LTV and TV3 New Service, using the norm that allows punishing media for insufficient accuracy. Administrative cases were launched for LTV news report about Āboliņš’s friend Mayor of Ogre Egils Helmanis’ actions during the pre-election period. In TV3 case the administrative case was launched over evaluation of NEPLP work performed by State Audit.

NEPLP did not listen to criticisms from State Audit about the failure to develop a strategy, assess the public needs in public orders, as well as failure to create criteria for evaluation of public orders.

LAJ also points to wards reports that cast a shadow over the reputation of NEPLP chairperson Ķezbere – she was involved in an investigation of a bribery case in Jurmala.

The ongoing crisis at Latvijas Radio is also mentioned, as well as NEPLP’s lack of involvement in its resolution.

LAJ believes Āboliņš’s request for explanations about Latvijas Radio journalist Edgars Kupčs’ opinion provided to LTV proves «he does not understand the definition of freedom of speech and editorial autonomy».

«The situation with Latvia’s media sector has major changes ahead. Rapid technological leap has toppled the existing economic model in existing media. This has opened the door for foreign information flow, and has opened Latvia’s market for foreign media giants. We need a more rapid, comprehensive and order-focused action than what the current composition of NEPLP can provide,» LAJ explains.

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