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Latvia needs Russian-language media, president says

January 11, 2017, 19:37 UTC+3 RIGA

The people speaking Russian as their native tongue make up 40% of Latvia's population

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RIGA, January 11. /TASS/. Latvia needs Russian-language mass media that would broadcast to the general Russian-speaking audiences, President Raimonds Vejonis said on Wednesday.

"I think they (the media broadcasting in Russian) are needed because we have a part of society that speaks Russia and that’s why there should be Russian programming on state-run TV channels and radios and, if possible, on private channels as well," Vejonis said.

"But the problem here is the contents of this programming," he said. "If these programs produced in Latvia don’t have a content, it’ll be much more difficult to attract the audiences to them."

Vejonis believes it is important to maintain and buildup the Russian-language content on Latvian state television.

"The government passed a decision some time ago on creating a number of shows for Russian-speakers, including news and analysis, on the basis of LTV7," he said. "We should provide information for the Russian-speaking sections of society."

Latvia has almost 2 million residents and the people speaking Russian as the native tongue make up 40% of the population. On the face of the situation, Latvian is the only state language while Russian is officially classified as a foreign language.

In February 2012, rights activists made an effort to secure the status of a second state language for Russian in a referendum but the majority of voters did not support the proposal.

There are two state TV channels in this country now. LTV1 broadcasts in Latvian only while LTV7 allots 25% of its air time to the shows and films in Russian.

In 2014, discussions of a need for a third state channel began in Latvia. In theory, it should be oriented at the Russian-speaking audiences. The concept of the channel was made public in 2015 but the authorities did not implement it due to a shortage of financing.

At the end of last year, the issue of a state channel for Russian-speakers re-emerged, with sources saying it might be launched in 2018.

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