Lawmakers' proposals on new requirements for television owners and managers might increase the media's dependence on politicians, a media expert warns.
© DELFI / Domantas Pipas

Vilnius University Associate Professor Deimantas Jastramskis' comment comes in response to the Seimas Committee on National Security and Defense's proposal to draw up amendments for broadcasting and re-broadcasting licenses to be issued only when owners and managers "match impeccable reputation requirements and national security interests".

According to Jastramskis, the regulation of this sector has already been tightened over the last three years as the head of the media watchdog – the Radio and Television Commission of Lithuania – is appointed by the Seimas.

"And now, under the plan, offenders in the State of Lithuania cannot become broadcasters," the media expert said.

In his opinion, Lithuania should take the opposite path and "think about increasing self-regulation" as this direction is emphasized in the new EU directive.

"It's an excessive initiative. Politicians' statements reflect attempts in Lithuania to link this sector with political subjects. If the laws included addition provisions on impeccable reputation, an additional risk would arise that influence on the media would grow in case of a certain political conjuncture," Jastramskis told BNS Lithuania.

"Increased influence of both the business sector and politics on the media has negative influence on its freedom. Political influence affects the whole sector and might be much bigger than the influence of a separate business on a separate media organization," he said.

The NSGK proposed tightening licensing following its parliamentary probe which concluded that the MG Baltic business group improperly used the media as a tool to influence state institutions and politicians' decisions.

MG Baltic denies such accusations and has already turned to court for the information the State Security Department submitted to the parliamentary committee to be refuted.

BNS
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