The Seimas passed on Friday legislative amendments allowing the Lithuanian Radio and Television Commission (LRTK) to suspend TV programs for up to 72 hours without a court order if there is a threat to national security.
Watchdog will be allowed to suspend TV programs for 72 hrs without court order
© Shutterstock

The parliament amended the Law on the Provision of Information to the Public with 78 votes in favor, none against and 12 abstentions.

The amendments were adopted in order to transpose the EU's revised Audiovisual Media Services Directive into national legislation and are yet to be signed into law by President Dalia Grybauskaite.

The bill will allow LRTK to suspend TV programs broadcast from countries outside the EU and the EEA without a court order for up to 72 hours if their content presents a serious threat to public security, including the safeguarding of national security and defense.

It will also make it possible for the watchdog to suspend TV programs broadcast from the EU and the EEA member states.

If the urgency mechanism is triggered, LRTK will have to notify the European Commission and the member state under whose jurisdiction the TV channel falls of the measure in the shortest possible time, giving the reasons why it considers it to be an urgent case.

Before suspending a program, the watchdog will have to obtain a notification or an opinion from a national security body or another competent authority saying that the suspected infringement poses a serious threat to public security.

The Seimas did not amend the law's Article 19, which lists the information that is prohibited to be published in the media.

The initial version of the draft amendments called for expanding the list to include information that, among other things, is "aimed at distorting the historic memory of Lithuania and creating distrust in and discontent with the state of Lithuania and its authorities, its democratic order and national defense".

The proposal was discarded after drawing criticism both from experts, who said the move would restrict the freedom of speech and from the parliament's lawyers, the Ethics Commission for Public Information and President Dalia Grybauskaite.

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