Do I need to register a TV channel in Latvia by retransmitting it?

19.11.2019 Ekaterina Nedilko, legal assistant

Pursuant to Paragraph three, Article 60 of the Electronic Mass Media Law, the National Electronic Mass Media Council (hereinafter – Council) has been granted the following competence in the field of electronic mass media: the Council shall develop and approve by normative regulations the National Strategy for the Development of the Electronic Mass Media Sector. The National Strategy for the Development of the Electronic Mass Media Sector shall be an external normative act.

The procedure for inclusion of the program in the list of retransmitted audio and audiovisual programs in Latvia is specified in Section 2 of Annex 5 of the National Strategy for the Development of the Electronic Mass Media Sector for 2018-2022 (hereinafter – the Strategy), issued pursuant to Article 19 of the Electronic Mass Media Law. 

Clause 6 of Annex 5 of the Strategy states that if the program owner, the program owner’s representative or the EMM wishes to include the program in the list of retransmitted audio and audiovisual programs in Latvia (hereinafter – Program List), the program owner, the program owner’s representative or EMM submit to the Council: 

  • a completed application form for inclusion of the program in the Program List;
  • a copy of the program broadcasting license (if the country of the program jurisdiction does not intend to issue a broadcasting license, a certificate issued by the competent authority of the country in which the program has jurisdiction, stating the lawfulness of the broadcast, must be submitted);
  • if the program owner’s representative or the EMM submits documents to the Council, the documents or extracts thereof certifying the right of the program owner’s representative or the EMM to distribute the program in the Republic of Latvia must also be submitted. 

Upon receipt of the documents, the Council examines them at the Council meeting and informs the program owner or the program owner’s representative or the EMM about the decision taken (Clause 7 of Annex 5 of the Strategy). 

In the event that when reviewing the documents referred to in Clause 6 of Annex 5 of the Strategy, a lengthy determination of facts is necessary, the Council may extend the issuance of an administrative act under the terms of the Administrative Procedure Law by notifying the program owner or the program owner’s representative or the EMM (Clause 8 of Annex 5 of the Strategy). 

Pursuant to Article 64 of the Administrative Procedure Law, if an administrative matter is initiated on the basis of a submission, an institution shall take a decision regarding the issue of an administrative act within a month from the day the submission is submitted. 

If due to objective reasons it is not possible to comply with the one month time period, the institution may extend it for a period not exceeding four months from the day the submission is submitted, notifying the submitter thereof. If a lengthy determination of facts is necessary, the institution with which the administrative act may be appealed may extended the term for the issuance of an administrative act up to one year by a reasoned decision notifying the submitter, but in the absence of such a higher institution or it is the Cabinet of Ministers, the decision shall be taken by the head of the institution issuing the administrative act. The decision regarding extension of the time period may be disputed and appealed. The court shall hear the complaint in writing. 

Clause 9 of Annex 5 of the Strategy defines the procedure for drawing up the necessary documents. The specified documents shall be drawn up in accordance with the Regulation No. 558 “Procedures for Drafting and Formatting of Documents” of the Cabinet of Ministers of September 4, 2018. Documents drawn up in a foreign language must be submitted in the state (Latvian) language, namely: 

  • if the document in a foreign language is drafted outside the territory of the Republic of Latvia, the original or a notarized derivative of the document in the foreign language and a certified translation into the state language shall be submitted;
  • if a document in a foreign language is prepared in the territory of the Republic of Latvia, notarized certification is not required for the derivative of such document, but it must be prepared in accordance with Regulation No. 558 of the Cabinet of Ministers, accompanied by a certified translation into the state language; 
  • subject to the confidentiality of the information contained in the agreements, the entrepreneur may submit a copy of the document in the original language of the agreement stating the following information – the parties, the duration of the agreement, the rights of the parties, including assignment of rights to third parties, the territory covered by the agreement, the manner in which the program is distributed (platform), proof of copyright and related rights to the program (translation of an extract of such document must be certified in accordance with the two preceding paragraphs). 

In its turn, Clause 10 of the Section 3 of Annex 5 of the Strategy determines the existence of an electronic registration system (hereinafter – System), which is established and maintained by the Council for the electronic mass media which retransmit audio and audiovisual programs. This System shall ensure equal and non-discriminatory rules for the retransmission of audio and audiovisual programs for all EMM. 

The System consists of two parts: 

1) EMM Register, which retransmits audio and audiovisual programs (hereinafter – Register), in which the following information is entered (specified): 

  • title of the EMM;
  • registration number in the Register of Enterprises of the Republic of Latvia, VAT number;
  • EMM contact details (legal and actual address, telephone number, e-mail address, contact person);
  • information on the place(s) of service provision;
  • retransmission permit number;
  • estimated number of subscribers;
  • a list of the retransmitted programs of the particular EMM;
  • the representative or owner of each retransmitted program with which the right to retransmit is contracted (the electronic mass media selects from the menu provided);
  • the duration of the agreement concluded between the EMM and the agent or owner of the program to be retransmitted for the retransmission of the program;
  • the language(s) in which the program is available;- other information (for example, the entrepreneurs are indicated whose electronic communications networks are used to provide the retransmission service). 

2) List of audio and audiovisual programs to be retransmitted in Latvia, which shall contain the following information:

  • the title of the audio or audiovisual program (the program title must be in Latin characters. In case the original title is not in Latin characters, the title in the original language shall also be included in the Program List) and the current program logo;
  • the issuer of the broadcasting license and the issuing state;
  • program owner;
  • thematic orientation of the audio or audiovisual program;
  • the language(s) of the audio or audiovisual program;
  • the current logo of the program. 

The EMM is responsible for the truthfulness of the information provided to the Council as set forth in Article 201.5, Paragraph 7 of the Latvian Administrative Violations Code. The Council shall, when monitoring the EMM or otherwise take any action necessary to monitor them, refer to the information submitted in the System by the EMM.

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