The Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania prohibits censorship and monopolisation of the mass media (Article 44), guarantees freedom of expression and lays down the limits of exercising freedom of expression (Article 25). The principal law governing the activity of public information is the Law on the Provision of Information to the Public (see chapter 4.2.1). The Ministry of Culture is one of the institutions responsible for the media policy and the implementation of the Law on the Protection of Minors against the Detrimental Effect of Public Information. In implementing and coordinating national media policy, the Ministry of Culture cooperates with institutions operating in the field of public information and carrying out related supervision: the Radio and Television Commission of Lithuania and the Office of the Inspector of Journalist Ethics (see chapter 2.2 for more about the Office).
The Radio and Television Commission of Lithuania is an independent body accountable to the Seimas, which regulates and supervises the activities of radio and television broadcasters, on-demand audiovisual media service providers falling under the jurisdiction of the Republic of Lithuania, re-broadcasters carrying their activities in the territory of Lithuania and other legal bodies providing distribution services of radio and television programmes on internet for the users in the territory of Lithuania. The Commission participates in the formation of national audiovisual policy. It is an expert body for the Seimas and the Government on audiovisual issues. When performing its functions and taking decisions on issues within its remit, the Commission acts independently. The members of the Commission are appointed by the President of the Republic of Lithuania, the Seimas, the Lithuanian Artists’ Association, Lithuanian Bishops’ Conference, Lithuanian Journalists’ Association and Journalists’ Society. The chairman and deputy chairman of the Commission are appointed by the Seimas.
In 2015, pursuant to Article 36(2) of the Law on the Provision of Information to the Public, the Lithuanian Minister of Culture approved the Description of the Procedure of Verification of Circulation of Local, Regional and National Newspapers and Magazines, Except for Those Whose Circulation Does Not Exceed 500 Copies and/or Which Contain No Advertising. In accordance with the established procedure, publishers must provide data on the circulation of their published newspaper or magazine for the previous half-year to the Ministry of Culture twice a year, by filling in the approved form. The data on publication circulation (from the first half-year of 2012) and the participants of the media provided to the Ministry of Culture are made public in the Database of Producers and Disseminators of Public Information, available on the website of the Ministry of Culture.
The Ministry of Culture also monitors the media ownership. Pursuant to the provisions of Article 24 of the Law on the Provision of Information to the Public, all legal entities who are publishers of local, regional or national newspapers and magazines or managers of the public information media must submit to the Ministry of Culture the data on their participants who have the right of ownership to or control at least 10 per cent of all the shares or assets (where the assets are not share-based) and inform of the revised data if they change. The data specifies the following: media stakeholders; information about property relations and/or joint activity linking them with other producers and/or disseminators of public information and/or their participants. The Ministry publishes received data on its website in the Database of Producers and Disseminators of Public Information.
The antitrust measures to prevent concentration of media and all other economic entities are set up by the Lithuanian Law on Competition (1999). The Law defines a dominant position as the position of one or more undertakings in a relevant market directly facing no competition or enabling to exert a unilateral decisive influence in a relevant market by effectively restricting competition. Unless proved otherwise, an undertaking (except retailers) with a market share of not less than 40 per cent is considered to enjoy a dominant position within the relevant market. Unless proved otherwise, each of a group of three or a smaller number of undertakings (except for retailers) with the largest shares of the relevant market, jointly holding 70 per cent or more of the relevant market is considered to enjoy a dominant position.
Lithuania has a national broadcasting company: the Lithuanian National Radio and Television (LRT). LRT is a public body belonging to the State by the right of ownership. The Law on the Lithuanian National Radio and Televisionregulates the procedure of establishing, managing, operation, reorganisation and liquidation of LRT, its rights, duties and liability. The activities of a public broadcaster are also based on the Law on the Provision of Information to the Public. LRT is financed from the state budget and has the right to earn commercial revenues from other legal activities. Advertising and audiovisual commercial communications have been prohibited in LRT radio and television programmes since 1 January 2015, except for communications of support of cultural and sports events and/or their broadcasting and cases when LRT must broadcast advertising and audiovisual commercial communications following its contractual obligations regarding acquisition or granting of rights of broadcasting of international events. The highest LRT body that represents public interests is the LRT Council. It is formed for a term of 6 years and consists of 12 members: public, scientific and cultural figures.
According to the data of Lithuanian Radio and Television Commission, in 2018, there were 42 radio broadcasters in Lithuania that broadcasted 52 radio programmes. The greatest variety of radio programmes was in the largest cities of Lithuania: in Vilnius 30 programmes, in Kaunas 25, in Klaipėda 25, in Šiauliai 21, and in Panevėžys 19. According to the time listened, the four most popular radio programmes account for 56.7 per cent of the total listening time of audience.
The Lithuanian public broadcasting company broadcasts 3 radio programmes: “LRT radijas”, “Opus”, and “Klasika”. The last one is dedicated to cultural content. Other radio broadcasters are private companies; most of them are for-profit organisations.
There are two Polish radio programmes in Lithuania: “Znad Wilii”, and “RadioWilno” (streamed online only), and two Russian programmes: “Rusradio” and “Raduga”. The Lithuanian public broadcaster LRT airs information of different duration for national minorities (in Russian, Belarusian, Polish, Yiddish, and Ukrainian).
According to the data of Lithuanian Department of Statistics, in 2018, the share of domestic (original) radio programmes of public broadcaster amounted to 95 per cent of the total volume and it did not change over the last 5 years. The share of domestic (original) radio programmes of private radio companies amounted to 96 per cent and it also did not change significantly over the last five years. The main part of content of radio programmes was entertainment (73 per cent), while educational programmes made up the smallest share (1 per cent).
Table 2: Volume of radio programmes, in hours, in 2014–2018
|State broadcasting company||Total||25 112||25 562||27 944||27 883||27 888|
|Original programmes||24 090||24 450||26 362||26 280||26 280|
|Coproduction programmes||900||990||1 460||1 481||1 486|
|Private companies||Total||321 912||270 548||262 325||253 571||220 896|
|Original programmes||306 285||253 920||252 640||245 616||212 282|
|Foreign programmes||15 253||16 503||9 685||7 955||8 614|
Table 3: Structure of original radio programmes, in hours, in 2014–2018
|Total||330 375||100||278 370||100||279 002||100||271 896||100||238 562||100|
|Information programmes||31 069||9.4||30 722||11.0||30 116||10.8||25 603||9.4||25 857||10.8|
|Educational programmes||2 966||0.9||3 421||1.2||2 959||1.1||2 157||0.8||3 001||1.3|
|Culture programmes||9 550||2.9||9 979||3.6||10 245||3.7||8 873||3.3||10 429||4.4|
|Religious programmes||2 433||0.7||6 208||2.2||5 558||2.0||4 397||1.6||4 439||1.9|
|Advertising||30 458||9.2||13 356||4.8||14 307||5.1||33 953||12.5||11 898||5.0|
|Entertainment programmes||232 316||70.3||199 991||71.8||201 910||72.4||184 461||67.8||174 330||73.1|
|Not classified||21 583||6.5||14 693||5.3||13 907||5.0||12 452||4.6||8 608||3.6|
According to the data of the Lithuanian Radio and Television Commission, in 2018, there were 26 TV broadcasting companies in Lithuania. Most of them were also engaged in re-broadcasting programmes and online broadcasting. There were 6 companies, which broadcasted online only, and 27 re-broadcasting companies. Most of them are private for-profit organisations, except the Lithuanian public broadcaster and 4 public local broadcasting institutions. Lithuanian public broadcasting company LRT broadcasts 3 TV programs: “LRT televizija”, “LRT Lituanica”, and “LRT Plius”. The last one is dedicated to cultural content.
According to the data of Lithuanian Department of Statistics, in 2018, the share of domestic (original) television programmes of public broadcaster amounted to 82 per cent of the total volume, which is 4 per cent less than in 2014. The share of domestic (original) TV programmes of private television broadcasting companies was 70 per cent and it is 14 per cent more than in 2014. The main part of content of TV programmes was entertainment (42 per cent), while religious and educational programmes made up the smallest share (less than 1 per cent).
Table 4: Volume of television programmes, in hours, in 2014–2018
|State broadcasting company||Total||26 837||28 887||27 681||30 447||31 824|
|Original programmes||23 109||24 099||23 514||26 280||26 280|
|Foreign programmes||3 728||4 788||4 167||4 167||5 544|
|Private companies||Total||90 946||124 443||119 837||168 220||194 305|
|Original programmes||51 725||83 945||70 440||136 891||136 891|
|Foreign programmes||27 537||33 638||33 907||21 079||56 752|
|Coproduction programmes||11 684||6 860||15 490||10 250||662|
Table 5: Structure of original television programmes, in hours, in 2014–2018
|Total||74 834||100||108 044||100||93 954||100||163 171||100||158 939||100|
|Information programmes||12 016||16.1||17 834||16.5||17 339||18.5||23 345||14.3||28 258||17.8|
|Educational programmes||797||1.1||1 001||0.9||900||1.0||756||0.5||686||0.4|
|Culture programmes||7 312||9.8||9 581||8.9||11 675||12.4||11 101||6.8||14 869||9.4|
|Advertising||9 302||12.4||31 249||28.9||13 679||14.6||33 040||20.2||13 239||8.3|
|Entertainment programmes||18 232||24.4||29 577||27.4||31 091||33.1||69 577||42.6||67 055||42.2|
|Not classified||26 955||36.0||17 894||16.6||18 910||20.1||24 948||15.3||34 409||21.6|
Production and distribution of original domestic content broadcasted by TV and radio companies are supported through the Press, Radio, and Television Support Foundation (see chapter 1.2.2). In 2018, the Foundation funded 144 projects of national and regional broadcasters and Internet media and allocated for them 1 072 240 EUR (see chapter 3.5.3 for more about support for media).
According to the authors of the Lithuania Report of Media Pluralism Monitor 2017, the MPM2017 for Lithuania shows low risk in the area of Basic Protection (23%), and medium risk in the remaining areas: Market Plurality (56%), Political Independence (48%) and Social Inclusiveness (48%). Among the most representative societal tendencies identified in the contemporary Lithuanian media marketplace are such deviations as enduring political and business influence, on-going media ownership concentration, continuing audience fragmentation and social and political polarisation, declining overall institutional trust, and rising societal uncertainty and scepticism.