Latvia | Freedom House

Freedom of the Press



Freedom of the Press 2004

2004 Scores

Press Status


Press Freedom Score
(0 = best, 100 = worst)


Political Environment
(0 = best, 40 = worst)


Economic Environment
(0 = best, 30 = worst)


Latvian media generally operate freely, as guaranteed by the 1991 press law. However, libel and incitement of racial hatred are crimes that carry possible prison sentences of up to three years. More than 200 privately owned newspapers represent a wide range of political views. The majority of television and radio broadcasters are also in private hands. On June 6, 2003, the constitutional court struck down restrictions on the use of Russian and other foreign languages in broadcast media, opening the door for a wide array of foreign and domestic news sources. In an attempt to encourage control of campaign financing, Transparency International-Latvia has proposed placing spending limits on political advertising, but Latvian State Television, along with a coalition of private broadcasters, maintains that the proposal violates democratic principles. An investigation of the 2001 murder of Gundars Matiss, a journalist for the newspaper Kurzemes Vards, concluded in July that Matiss was killed in retaliation for his investigative reporting on organized crime. Court proceedings are currently underway against a company indirectly owned by the government to prevent the implementation of a digital television contract that would hinder the ability of private television stations to compete. Use of the Internet in Latvia is unrestricted.