Lithuania – (E3) Diversity of formats

Score in short:

Different types of content are offered, but entertainment dominates in mainstream media.

Score in detail:

The media law contains general guidelines on programming that apply to all broadcasters. They include the requirement to air unbiased information with as many opinions as possible on controversial issues related to politics, economic and social issues. Commercial broadcasters are also obliged by their license contract with the regulator to air a certain proportion of generic programming every week.

The generic diversity is fairly large across the four national coverage channels (1 PSB and 3 commercial stations), ranging from hard news to softer programming and entertainment, but the generic composition among different types of broadcasters (public service and commercial stations) looks very much the same (Table 5). offering more hours in some sectors of softer programming (music and entertainment), commercial stations aim to keep balance in their output by providing news and information programs as well as niche programs in religion, culture and education in comparable amounts with the public service broadcaster. As the data show, all four stations with national coverage are dependent on advertising revenues and devote a substantial number of hours to advertising in their programming (4-8 % of all output hours).

Table 5. Output of broadcasting by genre in Lithuania, 2008

Genres                                                                   PSB output, LTV                                       Commercial stations output (hours)

GenresPSB, LTVCommercial
  Hours % Hours %
Information programs  1,258 11.11 7,082 7.96
News (including sports) 458 4.04 4,096 4.6
Other information programs 800 7.06 2,986 3.35
Education 20 0.18 1,121 1.26
Culture 412 3.64 2,877 3.23
Religion 35 0.31 340 0.38
Entertainment 3,463 30.58 26,232 29.48
Movies, soap 1,991 17.58 6,082 6.83
Music 464 4.1  9,191 10.32
Sports, excluding sports news 491 4.34 735 0.83
Other entertainment 517 4.57 10,170 11.43
Other unclassified programs                              931         8.22              10,728            12.05
Advertising 484 4.27 7,355 8.26
Total 11,324 100 % 88,995 100 %

Source: Culture, the Press and Sport 2009.

LRT gives special attention to national production – documentaries, films and drama (Table 6). In 2009, a total number of 2008 hours of European production was broadcasted, which is 63 % of the total international production. The share of foreign programs on both PSB channels was around 30 % of total programming time and amounted to 3200 hours (animation – 124 hours, documentaries – 480 hours, series – 1400 hours and films – 1200 hours).

Table 6. Weekly program output on LTV

TV programs output  Min. Share
News and information programs  1,675 15 %
Social and education programs  1,274 11 %
Publicistics and TV magazines                           1,104             9.4 %
Children and youth programs  860 7.4 %
Culture 1,095 8 %
Entertainment 30 0.3 %
Music 3,455 29.8 %
Minority programs 90 1 %
Religion 60 0.5 %
Sports 420 3.6 %
Films and TV series  1,630 14 %
Total 11,693 100 %

Source: Annual Report of LRT 2010.

Indeed, it would make economic sense for smaller or less wealthy countries to buy all their television programs cheaply from larger, richer countries that can afford to invest in higher quality productions and sell below the cost of production. As studies in other European countries also show, this does not happen in practice. The external benefits of television (its role of informing, entertaining and educating about local issues) militate against complete reliance on imports, thus the need to support the domestic market and national culture is recognized by national governments as well as by supra-national institutions through the use of subsidies and quotas aimed at enhancing European works and independent domestic production.