The National Electronic Mass Media Council (NEPLP), taking into account Cabinet of Ministers order no. 103 “Regarding Declaration of the Emergency Situation” and the consequences of it in the media sector, as well as in compliance with its obligation to represent the public interests in the field of electronic mass media specified in the Electronic Mass Media Law, informs about the activities executed by NEPLP during the emergency situation.

1. During an emergency situation and acknowledging the current situation, NEPLP closely cooperates with public administration institutions, expressing its position, setting priorities and providing concrete proposals on how to solve the crisis situation in the media sector and ensure informing the public. The necessary activities affect public, its safety and health during the crisis, as well as the future existence and development of the media.

2. NEPLP closely monitors the diversity and availability of information to the public. Especially, during emergency situation it is necessary to inform the widest public possible about current information and orders, NEPLP issued a decision authorizing the transfer of public electronic mass media news and informational analytical broadcast free of charge to other electronic mass media.

3. Since declaration of emergency situation in Latvia for a number of media outlets incomes has fallen significantly. Therefore, NEPLP has made a request to the Cabinet of Ministers of the Republic of Latvia to grant support in the amount of at least one million euros to commercial electronic mass media for content creation. The Cabinet of Ministers has granted one million euros to NEPLP, which will be assigned through a tender for the creation of public service remit in commercial electronic media to ensure the security of the information space, as well as diverse information and opinions for the public to overcome the COVID-19 crisis.

4. Responding to the situation in Latvia and in the world, also taking into account the important role of high quality and reliability of local media in the process of informing the public, NEPLP has launched a tender for the informative material on COVID-19 subject. The winners of the tender are two electronic mass media broadcasting television programmes and three electronic mass media broadcasting radio programmes, thus the information materials created by these electronic mass media in Latvian and in minority languages will reach a wide range of audiences. The founds was requested from state budget programme “Funds for Unforeseen Events” for public and commercial medium.

5. Given the important role of journalists who are working in the production and dissemination of information, the successful and high-quality work of journalists and operators cannot be ensured by working remotely. NEPLP in consultation with the electronic mass media representatives has urged to provide journalists and operators with the opportunity to take a COVID-19 test free of charge. Initiation has been accepted and this opportunity has been provided.

6. Given that every member of the public is equal, NEPLP has drawn the attention of public television to the need to make content, especially news, announcements, press conferences, accessible to people with disabilities – for deaf and hard of hearing providing sign language translation for news summaries and news ticker.

7. Due to restrictions for freedom of assembly in Latvia, it has become impossible to visit churches and conduct services in person. The Cabinet of Ministers has allowed  NEPLP to make a decision on the transfer of the Easter holiday content broadcasted by public media to other electronic mass media free of charge during Easter holiday.

8. Considering the enormous role of the media in overcoming the COVID-19 crisis and ensuring the security and accuracy of the state's information space, NEPLP drawn the attention of electronic mass media on high quality journalism, especially during an emergency situation. Additionally, asked to increase attention on the truthful and accuracy of distributed information, avoiding incomplete and misleading information in electronic mass media programmes.

9. During the emergency situation, intensified monitoring of foreign television programmes retransmitted in Latvia is performed, monitoring whether disinformation is disseminated in them, as well as fulfil other actions that affect Latvian information space and its security. Taking into account that the mentioned information can reach a wide part of the Latvian society, NEPLP and the Ministry of Culture have urgent legislative initiative of the amendments to the Electronic Mass Media Law, which are related to the implementation of the Audiovisual Media Services Directive. After the adoption of the amendments, NEPLP will have the rights to take action against these television programmes if they distribute information that is considered to harm or possibly harm the interests of public health or safety.

10. To limit the different types of disinformation, including disinformation related to the spread of COVID-19, NEPLP intensifies monitoring and restricts the websites containing retransmitted television programmes without a retransmission permit issued by NEPLP. Restricting such websites, NEPLP not only stimulates the activities of legal television service providers, but also restricts the availability of content that may contain disinformation, to mislead viewers and be directed against Latvia.

11. Due to the restrictions set in Latvia, no sports events take place and study process takes place remotely. NEPLP, in cooperation with the Ministry of Education and Science and representatives of electronic mass media, has created an opportunity for two free terrestrial broadcasting programmes – “ TV” un “Re:TV (Latvijas Reģionu Televīzija)” –  to demonstrate educational content. Starting from April 6, content is regarding education for students in grades 1. – 6. and starting from April 14 for students studying in classes 9 and 12, till end of school year. This content provides and facilitates learning process from home for students and teachers.

12. In order to stimulate the protection of local content, NEPLP has requested the Ministry of Culture to provide support for electronic mass media by covering the costs of electronic mass media broadcasting during an emergency situation.

13. NEPLP are incessantly receiving complaints from people regarding possible disinformation about the COVID-19 distributed by television and radio programmes in Latvia. NEPLP are evaluating and responding to these complains as fast as possible. 

NEPLP will continue to inform about the taken decisions and accomplished tasks during the emergency situation, supporting and strengthening the electronic mass media.