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 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: theRadio and Television Commission of Lithuania and theOffice 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 the internet for the users in the territory of Lithuania. The Commission also 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 Commission consists of 11 members: 2 members are appointed by the President of the Republic of Lithuania, three members (one of them from the opposition political groups) are appointed by the Seimas on the recommendation of the Committee on Culture, three members are appointed by the Lithuanian Association of Artists, one member – by the Lithuanian Bishops’ Conference, one member – by the Lithuanian Journalists’ Union, and one member – by the Society of Lithuanian Journalists. The members of the Commission are appointed to serve for a period of four years and may not serve for more than two terms in succession. The chairman and deputy chairman of the Commission are appointed by the Seimas.
The Ministry of Culture monitors 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 the Ministry of any changes to the data. 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 the 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 the exertion of 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: Lithuanian National Radio and Television (LRT). LRT is a public body belonging to the State by the right of ownership. The Law on Lithuanian National Radio and Televisionregulates the procedure of establishing, managing, operating, reorganising and liquidating 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. Programming diversity is declared as one of the main aims of LRT that is realised through 7 media channels. Two of them – television LRT Plus and radio LRT Klasika deliver specialised content dedicated to culture. LRT’s annual budget depends directly on the taxes collected in the year before the last. The State allocates 1% of personal income tax and 1.3% of excise duties collected. LRT is not allowed to air commercial advertising. This funding model, where the LRT’s budget is automatically calculated as a fixed share of the taxes collected by the State, has been in place since 2015 and was introduced as a guarantee of independence from government institutions as well as commercial revenues and economic lobbying. The highest governing LRT body is the LRT Council. It is formed for a term of 6 years and consists of 12 members, public, scientific, and cultural figures. The Council forms the strategy of the LRT programming and LRT website, supervises the implementation of the LRT’s mission, approves the annual income and spending by LRT administration, as well as deals with the other issues within the Council capacity as envisaged by LRT by-laws.
According to the data of the Lithuanian Radio and Television Commission, in 2022, there were 42 radio broadcasters in Lithuania that broadcasted 55 radio programmes. 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 commercial 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).
In 2020, the greatest variety of radio programmes was in the largest cities of Lithuania: in Vilnius 31 programmes, in Kaunas 25, in Klaipėda 24, in Šiauliai 22, and in Panevėžys 19. The four most popular national radio programmes account for 58 % of the total listening time.
According to the data of Lithuanian Statistics, in 2020, the share of domestic (original) radio programmes of the public broadcaster amounted to 92.6 % of the total volume and is by 2.5 – 3.0 % smaller than in the last 5 years. The share of domestic (original) radio programmes of private radio companies amounted to 91 % and is smaller by 5 % than in the last 5 years (see Table 2). The main content of radio programmes was entertainment (69.7 %), while educational programmes made up the smallest share (1.0 %). Cultural programmes made up 5.2% of the total content (see Table 3).
Table 2: Volume of radio programmes, in hours, in 2016–2020
|State broadcasting company||Total||27 944||27 883||27 888||27 845||28 439|
|Original programmes||26 362||26 280||26 280||26 280||26 352|
|Coproduction programmes||1 460||1 481||1 486||1 433||1 965|
|Private companies||Total||262 325||253 571||220 896||239 579||260 729|
|Original programmes||252 640||245 616||212 282||231 485||237 195|
|Foreign programmes||9 685||7 955||8 614||8 094||23 5pm 34|
Table 3: Structure of original radio programmes, in hours, in 2016–2020
|Total||279 002||100||271 896||100||238 562||100||257765||100||263547||100|
|Information programmes||30 116||10.8||25 603||9.4||25 857||10.8||26840||10.4||26281||10.0|
|Educational programmes||2 959||1.1||2 157||0.8||3 001||1.3||3350||1.3||2515||1.0|
|Culture programmes||10 245||3.7||8 873||3.3||10 429||4.4||12168||4.7||13782||5.2|
|Religious programmes||5 558||2.0||4 397||1.6||4 439||1.9||4517||1.8||4606||1.7|
|Advertising||14 307||5.1||33 953||12.5||11 898||5.0||16920||6.6||24078||9.1|
|Entertainment programmes||201 910||72.4||184 461||67.8||174 330||73.1||187287||72.7||183722||69.7|
|Not classified||13 907||5.0||12 452||4.6||8 608||3.6||6683||2.6||8563||3.2|
According to the data of the Lithuanian Radio and Television Commission, in 2020, there were 29 TV broadcasting companies in Lithuania. 12 of them were also engaged in re-broadcasting programmes. 46 companies were engaged in rebroadcasting, 5 of them also take part in programme dissemination on the internet. There were 2 companies that broadcasted online only. Most of these organisations are private commercial organisations, except the Lithuanian public broadcaster and 4 public local broadcasting institutions. The Lithuanian public broadcasting company LRT broadcasts 3 TV programmes: “LRT televizija”, “LRT Lituanica”, and “LRT Plius”. The last one is dedicated to cultural content.
According to the data of Statistics Lithuania, in 2020, the share of domestic (original) television programmes of public broadcasting amounted to 86% of the total volume, which is 4 % more than in 2019 and 2018 (see Table 4). The share of domestic (original) TV programmes of private television broadcasting companies was 67.8% and it is 3.8% more than in 2019, however, the total volume of hours is 35% less than in 2019. The content of TV programmes was entertainment (38%), while educational and religious programmes made up the smallest share (0.5% and 0.4 %). Cultural programmes made up 7.2% of total content (see Table 5).
Table 4: Volume of television programmes, in hours, in 2016–2020
|State broadcasting company||Total||27 681||30 447||31 824||31703||30530|
|Original programmes||23 514||26 280||26 280||26 280||26 352|
|Foreign programmes||4 167||4 167||5 544||5 423||4 178|
|Private companies||Total||119 837||168 220||194 305||223112||146891|
|Original programmes||70 440||136 891||136 891||14 2891||99 629|
|Foreign programmes||33 90 7||21 079||56 752||73 776||46 868|
|Coproduction programmes||15 490||10 250||662||6 445||394|
Table 5: Structure of original television programmes, in hours, in 2016–2020
|Total||93 954||100||163 171||100||158 939||100||169 171||100||125 981||100|
|Information programmes||17 339||18.5||23 345||14.3||28 258||17.8||34 562||20.4||25 930||20.6|
|Culture programmes||11 675||12.4||11 101||6.8||14 869||9.4||14 575||8.6||9 011||7.2|
|Advertising||13 679||14.6||33 040||20.2||13 239||8.3||13 829||8.2||19 201||15.2|
|Entertainment programmes||31 091||33.1||69 577||42.6||67 055||42.2||64 233||38.0||47 819||38.0|
|Not classified||18 910||20.1||24 948||15.3||34 409||21.6||41 150||24.3||22 966||18.2|
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 2019, the Foundation funded 152 projects of national and regional broadcasters and Internet media and allocated to them 1 025 070 EUR (see chapter 3.5.3 for more about support for media).
According to the authors of the Lithuania Report of the Media Pluralism Monitor 2021, Lithuania scores low risk in Fundamental Protection (28%), medium risk in Political Independence (34%) and Social Inclusiveness (43%), and high risk in Market Plurality (70%) area. Some of the persisting issues are political and business influence, lack of media ownership transparency, continuing audience fragmentation and social and political polarisation, declining overall institutional trust, and rising societal uncertainty and scepticism.