The undersigned international media freedom and journalists’ organisations, including the International and European Federations of Journalists (IFJ-EFJ), are extremely concerned by Latvian government proposals to ban the broadcast of Russian language content on Latvian public service media.
On 28 September, the Latvian parliament approved the “National Security Concept”, a government-backed policy planning document. It states that all “content created by public media must only be in Latvian and languages belonging to the European cultural space” from 1 January 2026. The move would essentially prohibit Latvian TV and Latvian Radio from continuing to produce content in Russian.
Currently, Latvian TV and Latvian Radio provide content in a range of minority languages through a variety of platforms including the RUS.LSM portal which reached over 200,000 visitors in August 2023 and connects with many more on social media, and Latvian Radio 4 which reaches around 150,000 listeners a week and has around 1.3 million listeners to their podcasts every year.
We are concerned that this new proposal will mean Russian speakers in Latvia will no longer have regular access to credible and fact-checked information, leaving them exposed to disinformation, fake news, and propaganda. The ability of public service media to provide vital information and connect with all of society is especially critical in light of Russia’s aggression in Ukraine.
The Russian language is spoken natively by at least one third of Latvia’s population, including not only ethnic Russians (who make up around a quarter of the population), but many other minorities such as Ukrainian refugees.
If adopted, the proposal will undermine citizens’ fundamental human rights – as enshrined in international, EU and European human rights law – to “access the media and impart and receive information including in their own language”. These principles are also reflected in the Latvian Law on Public Electronic Mass Media and Administration.
Our organizations call on the Latvian government to reconsider their proposal and launch an open debate in the interests of safeguarding media freedom.
– Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ)
– European Broadcasting Union (EBU)
– European Federation of Journalists (EFJ)
– International Federation of Journalists (IFJ)
– Justice for Journalists Foundation
– Reporters Without Borders (RWB-RSF)
– South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO)