The Danish Cultural Institute in Riga, supported by the Danish Foreign Ministry and the Nordic Council of Minister´s Office in Latvia, is carrying out a NB8 Workshop on Balanced Russian Language Media, in Riga on 27-28 January, 2015.
The purpose of the workshop is to initiate discussions and gather facts and ideas on strengthening balanced Russian-language media in the Baltic States, Ukraine and beyond. Target participants in the workshop will be media experts and professionals from Ukraine and the three Baltic Countries as well as peers from the other NB 8 countries. Preliminary Programme
The Background Paper of the Workshop claim that free media are crucial in a democratic society because their news and information contribute to the citizens’ and media consumers’ knowledge of the internal and external processes that impact their countries, regions and communities. Only free and accountable media will present the complexity of these processes so that the residents may comprehend the implications and consequences of the developments. However, if media are directly or indirectly controlled by the government and serve as mouthpieces for its policies, as is the case with the nationwide Russian TV channels that are freely and widely available in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, media consumers are exposed to biased information, and their ability to make informed decisions is severely compromised. In Estonia and Latvia, almost a third of the countries’ residents are Russian speakers whereas this is only the case for less than 10 % in Lithuania. Since the independence of the three Baltic States Russian-language residents have gradually turned towards channels retransmitted from Russia. Channels from Russia rank first, second, and third in the Russian-speaking population’s media consumption. This audience receives very little, if any, locally produced content that reflects their daily lives and encourages an identity as active citizens in a Baltic democracy.
Recently the three Baltic States, Sweden, and Denmark within the framework of NB8 have demonstrated their commitment to address the need for media responding to the needs of the population very rapidly and actively, and to include the Ukrainian media in this process.
The next following workshop will be presented in Copenhagen on February 28, 2015.