The Latvian regulator NEPLP detected 35 websites illegally distributing TV channels in the country in the first nine months of this year.
All 35 were subjected to a restriction process in accordance with the Electronic Media Law. Four stopped the illegal distribution themselves and access to 23 was restricted for up to six months. Warnings were also issued to eight.
Commenting on the development, Ivars Abolins, chairman of NEPLP, said: “The results of the first nine months of this year are just the beginning of this area. Illegal retransmission of television programmes creates unfair competition for local television distribution service providers operating under national regulations. It is a question of whether the entrepreneur is acting honestly and legally or dishonestly and illegally. Acting illegally causes significant damage to both the state and honest entrepreneurs. In addition, such illegal retransmission of TV programmes also means that programmes that are not allowed in Latvia and hostile to the state can be freely distributed. That is not acceptable. And we will address such workers now and in the future with all the severity prescribed by law”.
NEPLP council member Patriks Griva, who is also responsible for the protection of the Latvian information space, added: “We started to control the retransmission of TV programmes on websites this year and we see that this problem is very big. There are thousands of websites in Latvia that broadcast TV programmes. Of course, some of them operate legally. However, the proportion of suspicious websites is also high. Therefore, in order for controls to be effective, we will definitely need to increase resources for this work, and we will also encourage changes to the law to make the fight against illegal content stronger and more effective. It is also a matter of security of the state information space”.
In a separate development, NEPLP has identified several violations by the Russian language channel First Baltic Channel Latvia and Radio station PIK, fining them €9,000 and €11,500 respectively.