Regional media ask the ministry to withdraw the media content digitization project

By RockedBuzz 8 Min Read

Members and cooperation partners of the Latvian Regional Media Association (LRMA) have sent an open letter to the Ministry of Culture (KM), asking the ministry to withdraw the project “Integration of media content in the Latvian digital cultural heritage platform”.

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Members and cooperation partners of the Latvian Regional Media Association (LRMA) have sent an open letter to the Ministry of Culture (KM), asking the ministry to withdraw the project “Integration of media content in the Latvian digital cultural heritage platform”.

The letter states that the digitalization project has not been coordinated with the industry partners, and the activities envisaged in it threaten the long-term development opportunities and existence of Latvian regional media.

At the same time, LRMA emphasizes that the activities mentioned in the project description raise concerns about the unjustified and inefficient use of the media digitization support mechanism provided for in the European Union (EU) Recovery Program. Among other things, the organization mentions that the cost-benefit analysis raises concerns about calculations not based on facts and, accordingly, the impossibility of realizing the goals set in the project.

“It is impossible to implement them also because an agreement has not been sought or reached on the transfer of the regional media content provided for in the project to the project implementers,” the letter states.

Also, LRMA highlights what is emphasized in the eighth point of the project passport, that no support for commercial activities is planned, which means that as a result of the project, its implementers plan to appropriate and distribute content owned by regional media, including those protected by copyright, for free, thereby depriving them of the opportunity to sell their products and get fair compensation for them. payment.

The association emphasizes that the eighth point of the project passport also mentions that “indirect benefits” from the digitalization project could be obtained by subjects uncharacteristic of the media environment of a democratic society and non-existent in Latvia, such as “municipal regional media”, which, in LRMA’s opinion, shows that the EU support funds are planned to be used for the support of subjects of public funding.

LRMA concludes that the project “Integration of media content in the digital cultural heritage platform of Latvia” was created with the desire to direct EU support for the digitization of regional media to developers and developers of information technology systems, as well as public funding subjects, and not to regional commercial media, as mentioned in the information distributed by the Ministry of Culture.

The association emphasizes that LRMA already rejected the Ministry of Interior’s proposal last year to give regional media content free of charge to the Latvian National Library (LNB) as part of the project, and emphasized the need for digitization funding so that regional media could develop. “But KM, by publishing this project, which incorporates the measures we rejected, ignores the principles of good governance of the country and targeted allocation of funding,” says LRMA.

On Tuesday, March 7, the government decided to digitize Latvian mass media content and create new opportunities for “” with funding from the Rehabilitation Fund and the state in the amount of 1.5 million euros.

Lita Kokale, head of the Department of Public Relations of the KM, informed that in order to preserve and make accessible the valuable content created by Latvian regional media and also independent producers, improve services for the creation of public media content and introduce new opportunities for the use of audio and audiovisual content for the public in the Latvian Digital Library, LNB in ​​cooperation with Cultural Information systems center (KISC) until the end of 2025 will implement a project financed by the Recovery Fund and the Latvian state budget.

Kokale points out that regional media, especially small ones, as well as independent producers, have insufficient resources for digitizing their content, preserving digital archives and distributing content, as well as lack of an environment for digital management of their resources. On the other hand, Latvian public media, which use speech recognition and language synthesis solutions for the preparation of new content, need a media specialized language corpus for effective content creation. Therefore, in order to expand public access to valuable media content – both current and archived – and the possibilities of its use, it was decided to develop the resources of LNB and KISC accordingly.

During the project, both the public and content creators will be provided with new opportunities and solutions on the Digital Cultural Heritage platform by updating the user interface, creating a content management environment, developing content streaming solutions and a content search engine, implementing content processing and use solutions, and developing an audio collection.

The development of the platform will be based on existing technological solutions for its sharing, without creating new systems. The unified digital cultural heritage distribution system – Digital Library of Latvia “” will be used, as well as the digital objects management system “DOM”, the copyright management and licensing system “APLIS” and the reference data system “ATS”.

Digitization of media content and creation of a language corpus will be carried out during the project. The materials already saved in the Digital Cultural Heritage Platform and digitized in the project will be used to create the media language corpus. On the other hand, the created corpus will be used to adapt the existing speech recognition models, based on the speech recognition solution of the language technology platform “” of the Latvian state administration.

It is estimated that the socio-economic benefits of the project will amount to four million euros. The performed indicative benefit and expense analysis calculations throughout the life cycle of the investment project – over a period of ten years – show that an improvement in media work efficiency will be achieved by introducing media language corpus and platform solutions. Savings for regional media by storing and distributing media content centrally are also expected.

It has also been reported that LRMA was established in the fall of 2020 by the union of representatives of seven media organizations. The founding agreement was signed by AS “Kurzemes radio”, SIA “Novadu zizna”, SIA “Balvu Vaduguns”, SIA “Vietēja”, association and portal “Lobs”, SIA “Reģionu mediji” and SIA “Latgales laiks”.

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