Sunday, February 1, 2009

Latvia - its radio silence!

It is Monday moring now. For quite a long time there were heated discussions about the causes of the circa LVL1mlj debt in the Latvian Public Radio (LR). The strangest part of the whole issue is the fact that the National Radio and Television Council (NRTP) is the organization that oversees the work of LR, but they did not notice financial irregularities until the very late (December 2008).

After the investigation being carried out the former director of the LR Mr Semevics resigned. Soon after it was Latvian Transport Supremo, who suggested that the LR could be saved with monies earned from the LVRTC Plc. dividends. Then shady developments started to evolve. First, it was announced that LR needs a new director for solving the critical financial situation. Second, rumours spread that LR and Latvian Public Television (LTV) are not managed properly, that they should be merged, and there are businessman who are interested in buying the LR building in the very heart of Riga - Doma laukums 8. And finally, unexpected candidate was proposed for the post of the LR new general director.

After the election process NRTP rather unexpectedly to the actual head of the council (Abrams Kleckins - Harmony Centre Party) failed to elect the ``unexpected candidate`` and the former LR journalist Dzintris Kolats was elected the new general director of the LR. But the ``unexpected candidate`` was the party mate of the prime minister and transport supremo. Because, what a coincidence (!), the Ministry of Transport and Communication oversees the work of the LVRTC suddenly made the transport supremo to change his mind, and A. Slesers announced that it would be too inefficient to channel about LVL1 mlj. earned from the LVRTC dividends into the LR coffers.

It all lead to the public activism in the center of Riga, and opening of an account where Latvian public could pay their donations in order to support the work of independent and public LR. The staff of the radio is still investigating where did the LVL1 mlj disappear, but most of them also understand that the human resources are used not particularly effectively. Problems of human resources and public finances in the LR would be solved one day. Actually the LR and LTV would have to follow the example of Estonian Public Broadcasting (ERR) in order to cut the expenses of administration. Simply the Latvian MP´s have been too complacent, and the new public broadcasting act has not reached the stage of first reading in the parliament yet. Instead of lawmaking Latvian MP´s play political games, thus private interests of some greedy ministers and political party financiers are paramount to public interests now.

Thus, this morning the LR started with the period of stillness. After national anthem played at 6am, the radio presenter announced ``at the present moment due to the lack of financial resources the LR does not air its 1,2,3,4 programmes, as well as Radio Naba. We apologize our listeners for any inconveniences incurred.``("Šobrīd finansējuma trūkuma dēļ neraida Latvijas radio 1.,2.,3.,4. programma, kā arī Radio Naba. Atvainojamies radio klausītājiem par sagātātajām neērtībām."). For an hour there was stillness in all Latvian radio programmes. According to unspecified sources I heard that the new radio general director hopes on positive outcome from the negotiations with the PM early this week. If the new general director would not be able to reach a deal with the present government, and the government chair is shaking prior the Latvian farmers announced ``manure party`` and governing coalition members at loggerheads, then such periods of stillness on Latvian public airwaves would become customary...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

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