Latvian Law on Radios Licences to Broadcast – AER Calls on Promulgation of Last Week’s Amendments
The Association of European Radios (AER), representing more than 4500 commercially-funded radios from all across Europe, welcomes the amendments adopted last week by the Latvian Parliament to the Latvian law on radios licences to broadcast avoiding a breach of EU Law. To save existing radio programmes popular and key for pluralism, it is paramount that these amendments are promulgated.
With these amendments, the Latvian law may enable existing radios to safeguard successful models based on the formats agreed at the beginning of their licensing period. Otherwise, some of the currently most popular radios in the country would indeed have had to modify drastically their programming in the middle of their licensing period, leading their listenership to confusion and breaching EU Law. The EU Telecommunication Law obliges the national regulatory authorities to apply objective, transparent, non-discriminatory and proportionate regulatory principles by, inter alia promoting regulatory predictability by ensuring a consistent regulatory approach over appropriate review periods. According to EU Law, Member States shall especially not restrict or withdraw rights to install facilities or rights of use for radio frequencies before expiry of the period for which they were granted.
The production of popular, useful and pluralistic content in the radio environment depends on careful and long-term investments, requiring stability in the access to their main infrastructure: access to spectrum / frequencies (band II, 87.5-108 MHz). Radio remains primarily a broadcast medium: it is still unclear how transmission of radio via internet will develop. During manmade or natural disasters, broadcast radio is the first – and possibly the only remaining – tool to inform the public.
As it has been for the past 50 years, radio is everywhere, mobile, simple-to use, interactive and free-to-air. These features make it the most intimate and most trusted medium (Standard Eurobarometer Survey of Autumn 2014 (EB82)). Listeners need to rely on the ability to receive radio on these same terms in the future, by analogue and digital broadcasting as well as internet transmissions.
It is therefore essential that the amendments enabling existing radios in Latvia to maintain their current licence conditions are promulgated.
NOTE TO EDITORS:
Director Regulatory Affairs: Mr. Vincent Sneed.
Telephone: +32 2 736 91 31
Fax: +32 2 732 89 90
E-mail: vincent.sneed @ aereurope.org