A three-month ban in Latvia of Russian state television entered its second week, with Latvia Television announcing the creation of its own television channel for Russian speakers.
Latvia joined Lithuania, another Baltic country formerly part of the Soviet Union, in the ban because of perceived bias and programming by the Russian RTR channel "likely to incite discord," the Latvian Electronic Mass Media Council said.
State-operated LTV (Latvia Television) Board Chairman Ivars Belte said the new channel will cost $2.5 million and will be the best way to win over the Russian-speaking audience in Latvia without importing programming from Russia, although the government, while supporting the idea, has not yet approved its financing.
Latvia has a large Russian-speaking population, and Latvian officials have expressed concern over the Kremlin's announcement it would protect the interests of ethnic Russians in other countries. The TNS research agency noted half of Latvia's eight most popular television programs originate in Russia.