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RIGA - Aldis Paulins has decided to step down as board chairman of Latvian Radio, the public broadcaster's spokeswoman Ilze Zvaigzne told BNS.
Paulins announced his resignation at Latvian Radio's management meeting today. Paulis is leaving his office on March 9.
"The National Electronic Mass Media Council has not shown readiness and willingness to address the actual issues hampering the work of the Latvian Radio board - the protracted situation where one of the board members is not properly performing or refuses to perform his duties," Paulins said, commenting his resignation without naming the member of the Latvian Radio board who does not perform his duties well enough. Paulins said he had informed the National Electronic Mass Media Council about the problem.
Paulins also said that the National Electronic Mass Media Council's meddling with the broadcaster's work as one of the reasons for his resignation. "The new National Electronic Mass Media Council has started to openly interfere with the work of the Latvian Radio board... without respecting restrictions and the division of areas of competence as stipulated in the law," Paulins said.
At the same time, Paulins believes that the National Electronic Mass Media Council lacks the necessary competence to deal with the issues as required by the law. "The planning of the medium-term budget is the latest example. Turns out that the [budget] requests the council has submitted to the Finance Ministry are not in line with the law. The requests, of course, were rejected, and this, too, creates certain planning risks to Latvian Radio's operations in the next three years," Paulins said, adding that because of the aforementioned reasons he does not deem it possible for him to do his job successfully.
Paulins also pointed out the negative publicity about Latvian Radio was another reason for his decision to leave. "A certain campaign concerning the performance of the Latvian Radio board and Latvian Radio in general and containing a largely false and biased assessment has been launched in recent weeks."
Ivars Abolins, a member of the National Electronic Mass Media Council in charge of Latvian Radio, told BNS that Paulins did not inform the council about his resignation.
Abolins said that Paulins probably decided to quit being unable to work as hard and well as the National Electronic Mass Media Council expected. I can only guess that he felt unable to prepare the information we had asked him to provide. Secondly, he was not prepared to work as hard as the council wanted him to," Abolins said.
Asked about plans for the selection of the next Latvian Radio chief, Abolins said the council should first read Paulins' resignation letter.
Latvian Radio staff is planning protests as they are dissatisfied with their salaries and the board's job performance. They will go ahead with the protests if negotiations with the management fail. Mudite Paegle, a chairperson of the Latvian Radio trade union, told BNS that the broadcaster's employees wanted the Latvian Radio budget to be increased so that the board could keep its promise to raise the employees' salaries.
In Paegle's words, most Latvian Radio employees are discontented with their pay. When the economic crisis broke out in 2008, the radio employees consented to a 12 percent pay cut and most of them even committed to working one month without remuneration to support the broadcaster and help avoid its bankruptcy. But many employees still receive the reduced salaries, and they feel disappointed.
The union leader also noted that Latvian Radio staff is dissatisfied with the board's performance, as each board member is in charge of a particular sphere and the board does not work as a united team.