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by the Translation and Terminology Centre for information
only; it confers no rights and imposes no obligations
separate from those conferred or imposed by the
legislation formally adopted and published. Only the
latter is authentic. The original Latvian text uses
masculine pronouns in the singular. The Translation and
Terminology Centre uses the principle of gender-neutral
language in its English translations. In addition,
gender-specific Latvian nouns have been translated as
gender-neutral terms, e.g. chairperson
Text consolidated by Tulkošanas un terminoloģijas
centrs (Translation and Terminology Centre) with amending
17 April 1997.
If a whole or part of a paragraph has been amended,
the date of the amending regulation appears in square
brackets at the end of the paragraph. If a whole section,
paragraph or clause has been deleted, the date of the
deletion appears in square brackets beside the deleted
section, paragraph or clause.
The Supreme Council of the Republic of
has adopted a Law:
On the Press
and Other Mass Media
Section 1. Freedom of the Press
Any person, any groups of persons, authorities of State
institutions and all types of undertakings and organisations in
the Republic of Latvia have the right to freely express their
views and opinions, disseminate announcements in the press and
other mass media, and receive by such means information on
societal life or any issue they are interested in.
Censorship of the press and other mass media is not
Monopolisation of the press and other mass media is not
Section 2. The Press and Other Mass Media
In accordance with this Law the press and other mass media
(hereinafter - mass media) are newspapers, magazines, newsletters
and other periodicals (published not less frequently than once
every three months, with a one-time print run exceeding 100
copies), as well as television and radio broadcasts, newsreels,
information agency announcements, audio-visual recordings, and
programmes intended for public dissemination.
The provisions of this Law shall not apply to instructions of
State authorities and administrative bodies, regulatory
enactments, official bulletins of the courts and arbitration
practices, and materials issued by educational and scientific
Section 3. Legal Status
A legal person may be a founder or a publisher and an
editorial board of a mass medium.
Section 4. Operation of Mass Media
Mass media shall gather, prepare and disseminate information
in accordance with the laws of the Republic of Latvia.
Interference with the operation of mass media is not
In ensuring the realisation of the principle of freedom of the
press, for institutions, undertakings and organisations, the
economic operation of which is related to print runs of
periodicals, refusal on the grounds of political reasons to
accept and execute orders for printing publications is
Section 5. Right to Receive Information
Mass media have the right to receive information from the
State and from public organisations.
Section 6. Refusal to Provide Information
State and public organisation officials may only refuse to
provide information if it is not to be published in accordance
with Section 7 of this Law.
Section 7. Information not for Publication
It is prohibited to publish information which is an official
secret or other secret especially protected by law that promotes
violence and the overthrow of the prevailing order, advocates
war, cruelty, racial, national or religious superiority and
intolerance, and incites to the commission of some other
Materials from pre-trial investigations shall not be published
without the written permission of the prosecutor or the
investigator. Publication of materials that violate the
presumption of innocence shall not be permitted in the reporting
of judicial proceedings. During open court sittings journalists
may make recordings by means of technical devices if these do not
hinder the course of judicial procedures.
It is prohibited to publish the content of correspondence,
telephone calls and telegraph messages of citizens without the
consent of the person addressed and the author or their
The use of mass media to interfere in the private life of
citizens is prohibited and shall be punished in accordance with
It is prohibited to publish information that injures the
honour and dignity of natural persons and legal persons or
It is prohibited to publish information concerning the state
of health of citizens without their consent.
It is prohibited to publish business secrets and patent
secrets without the consent of their owners.
Founding Mass Media and Termination of their Operations
Section 8. Founding
Legal persons of the Republic of Latvia, as well as natural
persons with the capacity to act have the right to found and
publish mass media.
Relations between a founder, publisher and an editorial board
shall be regulated by an agreement.
Section 9. Registration
Mass media shall be registered by the Enterprise Register of
the Republic of Latvia. An application for registration shall be
submitted by the founder of a mass medium. The application may be
submitted by a publisher or an editorial board if this is
provided for in an agreement entered into by founders. The
application shall be examined and a decision shall be within a
ten-day period from the date of its submission.
The application shall contain the following information:
1) founder, publisher or editorial board;
2) name of the mass medium;
3) thematic content and tasks of the mass medium;
4) the territory or audience to which the major portion of the
mass medium production is intended to be disseminated or
5) the initial periodicity and extent of the mass medium;
6) the address of the editorial board of the mass medium.
A document regarding the payment of registration fees shall be
submitted together with the application for registration.
A registration certificate shall be issued upon registration
of a mass medium.
The right of a founder (publisher) of a mass medium to begin
operation shall be retained for one year from the date of receipt
of a registration certificate.
[17 April 1997]
Section 10. Rejection of a Registration
The Enterprise Register of the Republic of Latvia may reject
the registration of a mass medium, if:
1) the requirements set out in Sections 4, 8 or 9 of this Law
have not been complied with; and
2) false information is given in the submission.
Registering mass media under the name of a mass medium which
is already being published or has terminated operation by court
adjudication is prohibited.
The submitter shall be notified in writing of the rejection of
the registration of the mass medium within a five-day period from
the day the decision was made, indicating the reason for the
rejection. Such a rejection may be appealed to a court in
accordance with the procedures prescribed by law.
[17 April 1997]
Section 11. Termination of Operations
Operation of a mass medium shall be terminated:
1) if its founder or publisher and editorial board terminate
the operation of the mass medium in cases provided for by
2) if the mass medium has not been published within one year
after receipt of a registration certificate; and
3) if a court has made an adjudication regarding termination
of the operation of the mass medium.
If the operation of a mass medium is terminated in cases
provided for by Clauses 1 and 3 of this Section, the head of the
mass medium or the court shall within a three-day period after
termination of the operation notify the Enterprise Register
[17 April 1997]
Section 12. Termination of Operation by a Court
The Prosecutor General of the Republic of Latvia, the Chief
State Notary of the Enterprise Register and the Minister for
Finance have the right to initiate that the court adjudicate the
matter in regard to termination of operation of a mass
A court may make an adjudication regarding the termination of
operation of a mass medium, if it:
1) has published an invitation to use violent or any other
2) has published an invitation not to comply with laws of the
Republic of Latvia;
3) has not paid the taxes provided for by the laws of the
Republic of Latvia within the term and the extent specified and
does not submit to an audit by the State financial
4) has published information which in a criminal case has been
found by court judgment to be slanderous and defamatory, a
disclosure of official secrets, war propaganda, or violation of
racial and national equality; and
5) within a one-year period has repeatedly committed other
violations of the provisions of this Law.
[17 April 1997]
Section 13. Control of the Termination of
If operation of a mass medium is terminated by a court
adjudication, the Enterprise Register may appoint authorised
persons who shall be assigned to implement the execution of the
adjudication that has been made.
[17 April 1997]
Organising the Operation of Mass Media
Section 14. Production and Financial
The production and financial operation of mass media shall be
regulated by laws of the Republic of Latvia and other regulatory
Section 15. Mutual Relations of a Founder or
Publisher and an Editorial Board of a Mass Medium
Mutual relations of a founder or publisher and an editorial
board of a mass medium, as well as relations with other legal
persons and natural persons shall be regulated by the laws of the
Republic of Latvia, civil contracts and employment contracts.
Civil contracts shall determine:
1) the obligation of the editorial board to publish materials
of the founder or publisher;
2) the financing of the operation of the editorial board;
3) the distribution of income (profit) obtained through the
4) the mutual obligations of the founder or publisher and
editorial board to ensure appropriate productivity, social and
community (working) conditions for editorial staff; and
5) other civil legal relations between the founder or
publisher and editorial board.
Section 16. Editor (Editor-in-chief) of a Mass
An editor (editor-in-chief) shall be responsible for the work
of an editorial board of a mass medium and its other departments
in accordance with his or her competency, which is determined by
this Law, regulatory enactments, as well as agreements entered
into with the founder or publisher.
The editor (editor-in-chief) shall manage the work of the
editorial board of the mass medium, represent it in relations
with the founder, publisher and other legal persons and natural
The editor (editor-in-chief) shall be responsible for the
content of the materials to be published in the mass medium.
Section 17. Observance of Copyright
When using the materials to be published and broadcast, a mass
medium shall observe the laws of the Republic of Latvia and
international copyright norms.
Section 18. Issue Data
Each press run shall include the following information:
1) name of the publication, and for serial publications - name
of the series, sub-series and serial number;
2 place and year of publishing;
3) information concerning a reprint (for non-periodical
4) publisher (institution, organisation, or name and surname
of a citizen);
5) editor (name, surname), editorial board and its
6) the printing-house, its address, the order number, printing
7) size of the publication print run, the price, the quantity
(printed sheet statistics) of the publication; and
8) the registration certificate number.
Section 19. Mandatory Copies
Mandatory copies of print publications shall be forwarded to
institutions and organisations in accordance with the procedures
prescribed by the Council of Ministers of the Republic of
Section 20. Retaining Published Information
Editorial boards of mass media have the obligation to retain
relevant manuscripts, documents created during the process of
preparation and transmission of television and radio broadcasts
for three years after the date of dissemination of the
information or data.
Section 21. Retraction of False Information
Persons, institutions, undertakings and organisations are
entitled to require mass media to retract information published
(broadcast) about them if such information is not true.
A submission for retraction of false information shall be
submitted to an editor of a mass media within a six-month period
from the date of publication (broadcast) of the false
The submission must precisely specify the information not
conforming to fact, the place (broadcast) and date of its
The editor of the mass medium is obliged to examine the
submission within a seven-day period from the date of its
If the mass media has no evidence that the published
(broadcast) information conforms to fact, it must retract such
without delay. The retraction must be published in the same
typeface, in the same section of the publication (broadcast) in
which the false information was published. In the event of a
dispute, the interested person or organisation may request the
retraction of such information by court process.
If an obligation to retract false information has been imposed
on a mass medium by a court adjudication, it shall be done in
accordance with the provisions of this Section.
A mass medium may refuse to retract disseminated information
if the facts are confirmed by a court judgment.
Section 22. Secrecy of the Source of
A mass medium may choose to not indicate the source of
information. If the person who has provided the information
requests that his or her name is not to be indicated in a mass
medium, this request shall be binding upon the editorial
The source of information shall only be produced at the
request of a court or a prosecutor.
Journalists, Their Rights and Obligations
Section 23. Journalists
Under this Law, a journalist is a person who gathers,
compiles, edits or in some other way prepares materials for a
mass medium and who has entered into an employment contract or
performs such work upon the instruction of a mass medium, or is a
person who is a member of the Journalists' Union.
Section 24. Rights of Journalists
A journalist has the right to:
1) gather information by any method not prohibited by law and
from any source of information not prohibited by law;
2) disseminate information, with the exception of such, which
is not to be disseminated in accordance with Section 7 of this
3) be present where socially significant events take place
and, when informing from such, also use official communication
4) refuse to prepare and publish material if it is in conflict
with his or her views; and
5) prior to publication delete his or her signature from
material if its content has been distorted as a result of
When exercising the rights referred to in this Section,
journalists, where necessary, shall produce a certificate of
membership in the Journalists' Union or of employment with a mass
medium, or an authorisation granted by such.
Section 25. Obligations of a Journalist
A journalist shall have the obligation to:
1) provide true information;
2) when publishing a statement for the first time, according
to the wishes of the person providing the information, indicate
3) inform an editor that the submitted material affects
official or other secrets protected by law;
4) refuse to perform tasks the performance of which involves
violation of the law; and
5) observe the rights and lawful interests of the State,
public organisations, companies (undertakings) and citizens.
Section 26. Accreditation
Mass media may accredit their journalists in institutions,
undertakings and organisations co-ordinating this with
authorities therein or their authorised persons.
An accredited journalist has the right to participate in open
meetings organised by accrediting organisation and in other
events, and he or she shall be provided with transcripts, minutes
and other documents in accordance with procedures set by such
Permanent representatives of foreign mass media to the
Republic of Latvia may be accredited by the Ministry of Foreign
Affairs of the Republic of Latvia.
An accrediting organisation may suspend the accreditation of a
journalist if he or she does not observe the provisions of
Section 25 of this Law.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Latvia may
suspend accreditation of foreign journalists if they violate laws
of the Republic of Latvia.
Liability for Violations of this Law
Section 27. Basis for Liability
A person committing a breach of confidence with respect to a
source of information, interference with the performance of the
duties of a journalist, dissemination of information injuring
human honour and dignity or disclosure of an official or other
secret protected by law shall be held liable in accordance with
laws of the Republic of Latvia.
Persons at fault for the creation and dissemination of a mass
media without registration or after termination of their activity
shall be held liable in accordance with the procedures prescribed
by laws of the Republic of Latvia
Section 28. Compensation for Injury
Injury, also, moral injury, caused by a mass medium to a
natural or a legal person by providing false information,
slandering and injuring the honour and dignity of a person by the
publishing of data and information the publication of which is
prohibited by law, a mass media shall provide compensation to
such person in accordance with the procedures prescribed law.
Section 29. Release from Liability
Mass media shall not be held liable for the dissemination of
false information, if it contains:
1) official documents of the State authorities and
administrative bodies, announcements by political and public
2) announcements by official information agencies; and
3) publications by officials.
International Co-operation in the Field of Mass Information
Section 30. International Treaties and
International co-operation of mass media shall be regulated by
treaties and agreements entered into by the highest State
authorities and administrative bodies of the Republic, mass
media, professional organisations of journalists or other
creative unions in accordance with laws of the Republic of Latvia
and norms of international law.
The Supreme Council of the Republic of
Chairperson A. Gorbunovs
The Supreme Council of the Republic of
Secretary I. Daudišs
Riga, 20 December 1990
Provisions Regarding Amendments
to the Law On the Press and Other Mass Media
(regarding amending law of 17 April
With the coming into force of this Law, Cabinet Regulation
No.19, Amendments to the Law On the Press and Other Mass Media,
issued in accordance with Article 81 of the Constitution
(Latvijas Republikas Saeimas un Ministru Kabineta
Ziņotājs, 1997, No. 5), is repealed.
Translation © 2001 Tulkošanas un terminoloģijas
centrs (Translation and Terminology Centre)