ONE OUT OF TEN MEDIA OUTLETS IS OWNED BY POLITICIANS OR STATE OFFICIALS

Published September 23, 2020

In 2019, one out of ten media outlets (101) in Lithuania was owned by 44 politicians, state officials and their spouses. According to the newly updated media monitoring website STIRNA.info, currently there are 1125 media outlets in Lithuania. 

Over the last decade, the number of politicians, state officials and their spouses who own media outlets has nearly doubled – in 2010, there were 27 such individuals. They are usually owners of regional media outlets who continue to own media after their election to the Parliament or municipal councils.

In 2019, the owners of media outlets featured 9 members of Parliament, 18 municipal council members from Vilnius city, Kelmė, Kėdainiai, Mažeikiai, Lazdijai, Šalčininkai, Telšiai, Plungė, Raseiniai, Radviliškis, Tauragė, Ukmergė, Utena and Zarasai district municipalities, 1 deputy director of a municipality administration, 1 member of the European Parliament and 6 former candidates in elections had affiliations with the media. 

Media outlets are owned by 6 members of the Lithuanian Farmers and Greens Union (13 media outlets), 5 members of the Social Democratic Party (17 media  outlets), 4 members of the Labour Party (22 media outlets), 4 members of the Homeland Union – Lithuanian Christian Democrats (4 media outlets) and 4 members of the Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania – Christian Families Alliance (4 media outlets).

I am glad that public authorities provide more data on media owners and their sources of funding, while media representatives also seek to act in a more transparent manner. I hope that in the near future we will see the long-awaited platform VIRSIS, which should bring even more transparency to the world of media” – said Sergejus Muravjovas, CEO of Transparency International Lithuania. 

Since 1996, 90 media outlets have been owned by 53 politicians, state officials and their spouses. 24 media outlets have been owned by the spouses (11) of politicians and state officials. 

The number of media outlets is constantly growing: in 2010, 764 media outlets were registered, in 2015 – 1027 and in 2019 – 1125. 

Based on the results of this analysis, Transparency International Lithuania recommends:

  • For media outlets, to make public information about their owners on their websites; 
  • For the owners of media outlets, CEOs and chief editors, to publish information about their interests on their websites and enable readers to access this information;
  • For media outlets, to publicize their annual financial reports. 

Information about the ownership of media outlets provided in STIRNA.INFO was gathered from the data provided by the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Lithuania, the Radio and Television Commission of Lithuania, the Central Electoral Commission of the Republic of Lithuania and the Chief Official Ethics Commission of Lithuania. 

In addition to media ownership data, information about members of parliament from the 2012-2016 and 2016-2020 terms, elected members of municipal councils, state officials in leading positions from 2016 to 2019 and all Lithuanian election candidates starting with the year 1992 can be found on the website STIRNA.INFO. 

Information about media ownership was gathered in January 2020. 

For more information: Sergejus Muravjovas, sergejus@transparency.lt, www.stirna.info.