Seven Latvian non-governmental organizations of journalists sent a joint appeal to the Saeima, asking them to dissolve the current composition of the National Electronic Media Council (NEPLP). According to Delfi, the authors of the message accused the council members of systematic abuse of authority and attempts to restrict the work of independent media in Latvia.
The main tasks of the NEPLP are to ensure freedom of speech and the availability of socially significant information, as well as support for free discussion in the media, the appeal says, but instead, council members are trying to punish journalists. According to the authors of the document, the NEPLP is persecuting the media because they provide an exchange of opinions with due accuracy and observe neutrality, that is, they do their job in good faith.
“The Council, in violation of its powers, seeks to regulate the entire information space. The case of the administrative penalty applied by the council to the TVNET GROUP for the allegedly inappropriate use of the word “deportation” is the last straw for all leading and active media organizations to mobilize to protect freedom of speech in Latvia, eliminating any signs of censorship in the Latvian media environment,” said the executive director of the Baltic Media Development Center Gunta Sloga.
The NEPLP called the allegations against it "absurd" and stressed that it was fighting Russian propaganda. “Blaming NEPLP for restricting the distribution of Russian channels, especially if it is required by law in connection with the need to protect the information space of Latvia, is simply immoral,” the council said in a statement.
Last December, NEPLP revoked the broadcasting license from the Russian TV channel Dozhd, which had been broadcasting from Latvia for some time. The TV channel challenged the revocation of the license through the courts, and it is expected that a decision on this case will be made in July.
In May, the NEPLP ruled to fine the Internet portal TVNet €8,500 for using the word "deportation". This word was heard in an interview with Seimas deputy Aleksey Roslikov, who commented on the amendments to the Immigration Law, according to which foreigners have to take an exam in the Latvian language in order to extend their permanent residence permit.