Changes in Baltic media laws

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TALLINN, Riga--Lawmakers in the former Soviet Baltic republics of Estonia and Latvia have been voting on proposed legal changes to their media.

The Latvian government has approved a new amendment to its media law changing a variety of conditions. In accordance with other recent, strict language laws limiting the use of Russian, the amendment requires that no more than 25% of total broadcast hours for any television station may be in a language other than Latvian. Movie broadcasts must now be either dubbed or subtitled in Latvian.

Meanwhile, the Estonian Parliament has voted against passing a new broadcasting proposal which would have transferred responsibilities for holding broadcast license tenders from an independent media council to the government. It also would have dismissed the current requirement that radio and television stations to be majority-owned by Estonian companies.

Copyright December 1998, Crain Communications Inc.

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