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Lithuania – (C2) Independence of the news media from power holders

Score in short:

Mainstream media do not have established rules and procedures to cope with pressures from power holders.

Score in detail:

In Lithuania, most of the main news media are owned by strong business groups with interests outside the field of media (see Table 7). Media in the regions (local and regional newspapers as well as television and radio stations), in contrast, are still owned by relatively small companies with different owners.

Table 7.  Media groups formed by national owners (2010)

Owner Main business/activities outside the media field Owned media outlets
MG Baltic, closed stock companyBusiness ranging from consumer goods and services to real estate investments and media businessLNK (commercial television), Alfa. lt (news portal), publishing houses Neo-press and UPG Baltic
Achema Group, closed stock companyVarious types of business activities in production and trade, cargo handling and logistics, construction and maintenance, financial institutions, hotels/health care and entertainmentBTV (commercial television); Radio stations: Radiocentras, RC2, Zip FM, Russkoje Radio Baltija; Lietuvos žinios (national daily); regional newspapers, printing houses, advertising agency
Hermis Capital, private equity groupBusiness activities in consumer goods and services, heavy industry, electronics and oilRegional dailies: Vilniaus diena, Kauno diena, Klaipėda,  Magazine: TV diena
Snoro Media Investicijos, closed stock companyVarious types of business activities in finance management, real estate and other businessesLietuvos rytas (national daily), Lrytas TV (national television), Ekstra (magazine)
SC Baltic Media, closed stock companyThe scope of investments in finance, publishing, real estate, energetics and tradeMagazines:  L’Officiel,  IQ:The Economist,, Intelligent Life, Miesto IQ
Augustinas Rakauskas (president of association of enterprises “Senukai”)Trade in building and household goodsRadio station Žinių radijas

Source: Ministry of Culture,, company web sites.

All respondents in the present study stressed in their answers that their media organization does not have any preferred issues or political or business interests that they would seek to give exceptional positive attention. The editors in chief were especially critical to other media groups. one of the chief editors interviewed is also a director of the company, and he acknowledges this as a case where conflicts of interest might arise. In such situations, clarity in decision-making and established rules of news processing are employed.

In addition to potential owner interests, another serious problem in a small market is related to journalists’ relationships with their sources. As indicated elsewhere, the question of proximity in small markets poses problems that are not obvious in larger markets. Indeed, in a small market, journalists’ relationships with sources are structured differently than in a large market (often in a small country only a limited number of sources are available for journalists to comment on a particular political or economic issue). Respondents in the study also mentioned attempts to put external pressures on journalists, such as professionalized political PR.