Journalists work in a fairly free and safe environment, but access to trustworthy and pluralistic information, especially by the Russian-speaking population, has been a serious issue.
Alongside the public media (Latvian Television, Latvian Radio), there are strong private (TV3 Group, DELFI, (Re:Baltica etc.) and local media. Several media outlets have moved to Latvia from Russia in search of press freedom. Although numerous channels broadcast from Russia, some of them have been forbidden due to accusations of violation of Latvian and EU legislation.
Media enjoy independence, and investigative and analytical journalism thrives, allowing journalists to hold politicians accountable. Although the access to public information is wide, transparency has been limited due to restrictions related to the Covid-19 pandemic and to Russia’s warfare. The media regulator has been criticized for lack of independence from the government.
The legal framework guarantees press freedom, confidentiality of journalistic sources and access to public information. Journalists are uncensored. Moreover, in most cases, their representatives are involved in consultations about new legislation impacting their work. If the media are targeted with legal actions, courts are likely to rule in favor of press freedom. Ethical issues are addressed by the Media Ethics Council and the ombudsman.
Both private and public media struggle with insufficient funding. As for local media, some of them have to compete with municipality-financed information outlets. Media ownership is generally transparent and does not raise concerns about market dominance, but more diversity would be favorable to media pluralism. Before elections, politicians regularly attempt to access the ownership of certain media.
Media operate mostly in the Latvian and Russian languages. Because of revoked broadcast licenses, the Russian-speaking population is left with less variety of choices, and access to information is a serious issue. During the Covid-19 pandemic, the circulation of fake news on social networks has increased and the overall trustworthiness of information has been undermined.
Journalists work in a generally safe environment, but are subject to verbal attacks on the street and online. Although the police have signed a memorandum on the protection of journalists, there are concerns as to the efficiency of its application. In the run-up to elections, political attacks on the media and attempts to discredit them tend to multiply.