The Lithuanian Office of the Inspector of Journalist Ethics, an agency established under the supervision of the country’s parliament, has ruled that the state-run Lithuanian Radio and Television did not violate any laws when it decided to limit public broadcasting of two television ads promoting the Baltic Pride march in July, 2013.
The brief clips were filmed by the Lithuanian Gay League and submitted to both private and public broadcasters for release the week before the march for LGBT rights. The advertisements were shown without restriction over private airwaves, but the state-run LRT board decided to limit airing of the ads to late-evening hours, presumably to fulfill obligations to limit the dissemination of “detrimental information” to minors.
A controversial law protecting minors from potentially damaging public information, including that related to homosexuality, has been in force in Lithuania since early 2010.
A representative of the journalism ethics office told the BNS news agency that, because the video clips were paid advertisements, the LRT was under no obligation to broadcast them. “The broadcaster had no obligation to transmit the Lithuanian Gay League’s social advertisement and no laws require it do so,” said Deividas Velkas.
Velkas went on to say that the LRT’s decision to impose an “S” (Adult) rating on one of the two advertisements was an effort to “avoid violating the Law on the Protection of Minors Against the Detrimental Effects of Public Information.” An “S” rating permits broadcasting only after 11pm.
Inspectors from the agency released an analysis last week finding that a t-shirt worn by one person featured in the ads with the words “For Family Diversity” printed on it was in fact detrimental to minors and therefore required limited broadcasting.
In a letter sent by LRT Deputy Director Rimvydas Paleckis requesting guidance from the LRT Board of Directors, Paleckis claimed that the advertisements “promoted relations between persons of the same sex.”
Decisions by the Journalism Ethics Office may be appealed in a court of law.
Watch the Baltic Pride promotional videos in full here (with English subtitles).