Mission (im)possible. The case of Lithuanian Public Service Broadcasting
(Vilnius University, Lithuania)
ABSTRACT: The Lithuanian Radio and Television (the LRT1) has been performing the functions of the public service broadcaster for two decades. Its mission is defined by the law; the former state subordination was replaced by the public administration (the LRT Council). The LRT is facing problems that are characteristic of the participants of the European audiovisual sector of the competitive era as well as specific problems of the post-communist states’ development. There were no traditions of public service in Lithuania, the reorganization of the audiovisual sector coincided with dramatic changes in public, political and economic life of Lithuania. Although formally the LRT meets the re- quirements set for the European public service broadcasting, from time to time, the question of independence of public service arises. The possibility of political power to interfere in the matters of LRT is revealed in the article through the particular case – through the analysis of the so-called Diarchy Case when due to the influence on the LRT the interests of the former and new political majorities clashed. The case reveals that it is possible to make political impact on the public service by announcing aspirations of full depoliticization. It is possible to pursue political goals of the governing majority through financial levels as well. After the idea of subscription fee has remained unrealized we see how difficult it is to find alternative funding sources for the public service broadcaster.