Conservatives bent on restraining Russian content in television

Russian (Soviet) film

Analysis has shown that Lithuanian television broadcasts a large amount of Russia content. In some televisions more than a third of broadcasting time is dedicated to it. The Conservatives have decided they wish to restrain this and have registered amendments to the Public Information Law which would draw clear red lines for breaches of regulations, reported.

One of the makers of the amendments, Laurynas Kasčiūnas explains that while the project only proposes to change two words in the law, they are especially important. He points out that in the law‘s article 38 it is specified that no less than half of a broadcaster’s air time should be dedicated to European production, when possible, which leaves the possibility of evading the legislation. The politician explains that their project sets out to remove the “when possible” clause, changing it to a clearer demand.

The member of Seimas outlines how the idea for the project appeared – initially a media investigation revealed that certain Lithuanian channels broadcast a large quantity of Russian content. Based on this Kasčiūnas went on to request the Lithuanian Commission of Radio and Television to perform a further investigation, which showed that while none of the televisions breached the 50% requirement, a number of them are very close to it and even if they breach the regulations, there would likely end up being no penalty.

This is not the end of reviews for the Public Information Law according to the Conservative, who points out that the concept of European production needs to be reviewed because currently all that is needed is just basic involvement by an EU state, even if everything else is, for example, Russian.

Silently influencing viewers

Analyst for the Eastern Europe Studies Centre department of Analysis and Research Vytautas Keršanskas says that Russian content sends two messages – one social and one political.
He explains that the main issue is that Russian content contains various concealed messages that are intended to hold the Lithuanian public in an Eastern cultural sphere. This includes TV series broadcast regularly that show bribery as a norm and overall a very different way of life, all presented as a given. Furthermore there are also political messages that attempt to influence or direct thinking according to the Kremlin’s needs, with this aspect being examined only fragmentally in Lithuania.

More than a third in some broadcasters

The Commission of Radio and Television reviewed the programmes of 11 broadcasters among them – LRT Televizija, LRT Kultūra, LRT Lithuanica, LNK, BTV, TV1, Info TV, TV3, TV6, TV8 and Lietuvos

The review showed that the most Russian production, an entire third of broadcasts, could be seen on Lietuvos, a total of 38%, with BTV coming second with 35.5%.

It was found that other televisions show a smaller amount of Russian content with TV6 dedicating almost 7.5% of its air time, TV1 – 3.3%, TV8 – 2.5% and TV3 – almost 2%. The remaining broadcasters do not feature Russian content.

The Public Information Law outlines that after subtracting air time for news, sports, game shows, TV shops and advertising, TV broadcasters have to dedicate at least half their air time to European content when possible.

The Conservatives’ amendments request to specify the standards more strictly, removing “when possible” and changing to “have to dedicate”.

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