Russian, English news in Latvia under threat, 'Russia Today next in line'
With their funding in limbo, Latvian public broadcaster LSM's Russian and English-language news portals are under threat of being closed down. According to the director of LSM.lv, Voldemārs Oliņš, the English service is virtually the only one about Latvia—next in line would be Russia Today.
The Saeima Human Rights and Public Affairs Committee is currently discussing the funding of Latvian Radio 4 as well as the LSM news portals in English and Russian.
For the past few years, €191,000 a year was spent on Latvian Radio 4 and Latvian Radio content for minorities, as well as €121,000 on the LSM portals in English and Russian, LSM's English news reported on Wednesday.
In the past, this money came from a special fund that wasn't part of Latvia's basic public media budget. But starting this year, money is allocated out of LSM's overall budget, the assumption being that there would be sufficient means in the budget to maintain the minority and English-language service.
Director of LSM.lv, Voldemārs Oliņš, confirmed that the editorial offices in question are currently funded out of the resources of Latvian public television LTV.
"Up until now, unofficial information from the ministries has led us to think that funding will be continued, and therefore no alarm was sounded until now," Mr Oliņš said.
"There are to scenarios: closing the English and Russian-language services, or looking for funding in the current LTV budget. Seeing as LTV is facing a tight financial situation this year, there's worry that the first scenario will be adopted," he added.
What is worse, a decision on the part of Saeima MPs to close down the Russian and English portals would be tantamount to a declaration that these aren't important.
"The next source in line that also produces a lot of English-language news in English is Russia Today," he said, pointing out that LSM.lv's English portal is virtually the only place where regular news about Latvia in English are available.
Editor: Dario Cavegn