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Latvia26 June 2007

Concern about motives for dismissing director of popular current affairs programme

Reporters Without Borders voiced support today for investigative TV journalist Arta Giga following her dismissal as director of state-owned LTV’s extremely popular weekly current affairs programme “De Facto”, which has on several occasions exposed abuse of authority and corruption by politicians.

The LTV management announced on 11 June that she was being removed for breaking two rules - overrunning the scheduled programme length by several minutes and using a swearword. She has been offered a less important post.

“We are very disturbed by this transfer,” Reporters Without Borders said. “It is a disproportionate response to minor offences, one that seems to reflect an underlying desire to restrict investigative journalists’ access to popular programmes.”

Giga has appealed against her removal but has received no response from the LTV management. Criticism of LTV’s news department began in February 2006, after the announcement of a restructuring by one of the station’s directors, Edgar Kots.

Giga’s situation is not unique. Last year, Gundars Reders was removed as head of the news department, despite getting high ratings, and was appointed LTV’s Brussels correspondent.

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