LAST YEAR ONE OUT OF EIGHT MEDIA OUTLETS WAS OWNED BY 68 POLITICIANS AND THEIR SPOUSES

Published June 23, 2022

One out of eight media outlets (129 in total) were owned by 68 politicians, state officials and their spouses in 2021. According to the newly updated media monitoring website STIRNA.info, more than 4 per cent of all public sector publicity and information service contracts were awarded to companies and institutions with links to politicians or their spouses.

Last year, there were 1058 different media outlets active in Lithuania, including publications, TV, online portals, radios and news agencies.

The owners of media outlets featured 8 members of Parliament; 12 municipal council members from Ignalina, Kelmė, Plungė, Radviliškis, Švenčionys, Tauragė, Telšiai, Ukmergė, Utena, Zarasai district and Vilnius city municipalities; 1 head of department at municipality administration; 1 member of the European Parliament; 1 Vice Minister; as well as 13 former candidates in elections. Media outlets were also owned by 9 spouses of individuals who held the position of a member of a municipal council (5), a member of the Parliament (3) and state official (1) in 2021.

During the period of January 2015 – June 2021, the public sector spent an average of €33.9 million annually on purchasing publicity and information services. More than a tenth (€25.4 million out of €237.3 million) of the total value of all publicity and information purchases were made by municipalities.

6.4 per cent (€1.6 million) of the total municipal spending on publicity and information services went to 32 companies and bodies with links to politicians. Meanwhile, 8 per cent of the publicity funds spent by ministries went to 12 companies and bodies linked to politicians. The average value of such contracts in local municipalities was six times lower than in ministries.

Three municipalities spent almost half (44.7 per cent or €11.3 million) of the total amount spent on municipal publicity. The municipalities that spent the most on publicity and information services were Vilnius District (€4.8 million, 29 contracts), Kaunas City (€4.3 million, 83 contracts) and Vilnius City (€2.2 million, 124 contracts) municipalities.

Three suppliers with links to politicians won 60 per cent of the total value of all contracts awarded to politically affiliated companies. The largest municipal suppliers in terms of value of contracts with political links are: UAB REJSPA (€614.9 thousand, 10 contracts), VšĮ Alytus Regioninė Televizija (€208 thousand, 14 contracts), UAB Dzūkų žinios (€141 thousand, 14 contracts).

Municipalities made twice as many contracts with regional media outlets (€7.4 million, 429 contracts) compared to national media outlets (€2.7 million, 219 contracts). However, the average value of the contracts awarded to regional or national media does not differ significantly. The average value of the contracts with regional media was €17.3 thousand and €12.4 thousand with national media.

Last year, media outlets were owned by 7 members of the Lithuanian Farmers and Greens Union, 6 members of the Social Democratic Party and of the Homeland Union – Lithuanian Christian Democrats, 5 members of the Labour Party, 4 members of the Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania – Christian Families Alliance, 3 members of the Liberal movement and by 1 representative of the Order and Justice Party, the Lithuanian People’s Party and the Freedom and Justice Party.

The website www.stirna.info uses information on media owners collected from the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Lithuania and the Lithuanian Radio and Television Commission, as well as from the Chief Electoral Commission and the State Service Ethics Commission.

A brief overview of the analysis can be found here and a previous TI Lithuania’s study on ministerial publicity and information procurement here.

For more information: Sergejus Muravjovas, sergejus@transparency.lt, +370 5 212 69 51

The initiative is a part of the Active Citizens Fund financed by the EEA Grants.