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Latvia

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1) REFERENCES

Commission Opinion [COM(1997) 2005 final - Not published in the Official Journal]
Commission Report [COM(1998) 704 final - Not published in the Official Journal]
Commission Report [COM(1999) 506 final - Not published in the Official Journal]
Commission Report [COM(2000) 706 final - Not published in the Official Journal]
Commission Report [COM(2001) 700 final - SEC(2001) 1749 - Not published in the Official Journal]
Commission Report [COM(2002) 700 final - SEC(2002) 1405 - Not published in the Official Journal]
Commission Report [COM(2003) 675 final - SEC(2003) 1203 - Not published in the Official Journal]
Treaty of Accession to the European Union [Official Journal L 236 of 23.09.2003]

2) SUMMARY

In its July 1997 Opinion, the European Commission expressed the view that, provided the necessary legislative amendments were pursued with sufficient urgency and were accompanied by the necessary structural changes to the industry, Latvia should be able to meet EU requirements in the audiovisual sector in the medium term.

The November 1998 Report noted that Latvia had made progress in this field, in particularly by the adoption of a new law on radio and television broadcasting. However, the conformity of the new law with Community provisions had not yet been assessed.

The October 1999 Report emphasized the changes in the audiovisual sector in Latvia. Despite the entry into force of amendments to the 1998 law on radio and television broadcasting, much remained to be done to ensure compliance with the Community acquis.

The November 2000 Report indicated that Latvia was continuing to adapt its legislation to the Community acquis.

The November 2001 Report highlighted the progress made by Latvia in adopting Community legislation on audiovisual media and culture.

The October 2002 Report noted that further developments has taken place in this sector, particularly in terms of developing institutional structures. However, there had been no particular progress in alignment of legislation with the audiovisual acquis.

The November 2003 Report confirms that Latvia essentially meets the commitments and requirements arising from accession negotiations in the field of audiovisual policy. As far as culture is concerned, Latvian legislation is in line with the Community acquis.
The Treaty of Accession was signed on 16 April 2003 and accession took place on 1 May 2004.

COMMUNITY ACQUIS

In the context of the internal market, the audiovisual acquis is intended to ensure the provision and free movement of audiovisual services within the EU as well as the promotion of the European programme industry. The acquis is contained in the Television Without Frontiers Directive, which is applicable to all broadcasters regardless of mode of transmission (terrestrial, satellite, cable) or whether private or public, and lays down basic rules concerning transfrontier broadcasting. The main points are:

  • to ensure the free movement of television broadcasts throughout Member States;
  • to promote the production and distribution of European audiovisual products (by laying down a minimum quota of broadcasting time for European products and those by independent producers);
  • to set basic standards for television advertising;
  • to provide for the protection of minors and allow for the right of reply.

The European Association Agreement provides for cooperation in the promotion and modernisation of the audiovisual industry, and the harmonisation of regulatory aspects of audiovisual policy.

The Television Without Frontiers Directive is one of the measures to be adopted by the CEECs under Stage I of the White Paper on the countries of Central and Eastern Europe and the internal market of the Union (1995).

EVALUATION

The legal framework for the audiovisual sector consists of the 1995 Radio and Television Law, the Law on the Press and other media, and the decisions of the National Radio and Television Council.

A revision of the current legislation in this sector began in 1997. The Latvian government has stated that it will address all the current deficiencies.

Since July 1997, Latvia has adopted a broadcasting law with a view to bringing Latvian law into line with the Television Without Frontiers Directive. The new law is being assessed. However, Latvia needs to draw up a precise timetable for legislative alignment. Latvia's commitment to align its legislation with the acquis in the context of its WTO accession is positive. Latvia has also ratified the European Convention on Transfrontier Television.

The independent regulatory body, the National Radio and Television Council, is operating efficiently, and is responsible for issuing broadcasting licences and monitoring compliance with the laws and regulations.

In November 1998, the changes to the law on broadcasting entered into force. However, much remains to be done to make the law completely compatible with the Television Without Frontiers Directive, especially as regards broadcasting and mail-order selling, jurisdictional criteria, broadcasting of major events and promotion of European works and works by independent producers. The National Radio and Television Council will have to be adequately staffed and funded and an independent enforcement system created.

Latvia amended its broadcasting law in October 1999. In the course of 2000, the role of the National Radio and Television Council was enhanced, but its monitoring and disciplinary powers need to be further reinforced.
Work will also have to be done to determine public broadcasting access to major events, the promotion of European works and works by independent producers, and rules on advertising. Since June 2001, this body has been able to issue administrative fines. Its administrative capacity needs to be increased.

In the 2002 Report, the Commission notes that Latvia has taken action to reinforce the Information Centre of the National Broadcasting Council, which has finished the codification, study and evaluation of information resources. The Commission also emphasizes the fact that Latvian audiovisual and cultural legislation is largely in line with the acquis. However, further amendments to the Latvian Radio and Television Law, in particular relating to provisions regarding major events and the proportion of Latvian music to be broadcast, will be necessary. Latvia must also review the requirements on the broadcasting time which public broadcasters must reserve for national productions, in order to make it proportionate.

In October 2000 Latvia ratified the protocol of the Council of Europe Convention on Transfrontier Television.

The 2003 Report notes that Latvia has adopted amendments to its Radio and Television Law relating to major events, the broadcasting of music by broadcasters under Latvian jurisdiction, the broadcasting of in-house productions by public broadcasters and the strengthening of the National Broadcasting Council's sanctioning powers. These amendments essentially complete the alignment of Latvian legislation, although the problem of the broadcasting of in-house productions by public broadcasters has still to be resolved.

With regard to culture, following its participation in the Raphael programme, Latvia has shown its ability to implement the Community's cultural acquis. Latvia organised a "European cultural month" in Riga in August/September 2001. The Association Council decision allowing Latvia to participate fully in the " Culture 2000 " programme as from 2001 was adopted in October 2001.

In the audiovisual field, a Memorandum of Understanding, providing for Latvian participation in the Community programmes Media Plus (2001-2005) and Media Training (2001-2005), was signed in July 2002, taking effect from January 2002. Since then, Latvia has thus been able to benefit from funding for the development, distribution and promotion of Latvian audiovisual works and for training measures.

This summary is for information only and is not designed to interpret or replace the reference document.

Last updated: 12.01.2004
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