Latvia - Media

International communications links are via leased connection to the Moscow international gateway switch and the Finnish cellular network. In 2000, there were 734,693 main line telephones and 401,263 mobile cellular phones. At the end of that year, there were about 19,000 people on a waiting list to receive a phone line, with the wait being about three years. The Committee for Television and Radio controls broadcasting. Domestic and international programming in Latvian, Russian, Swedish, English, and German is broadcast by Latvian Radio. In 1998, there were 8 AM and 56 FM stations. Latvian State Television broadcasts on two channels, and there are several independent television stations with daily broadcasts. Cable and satellite services are available, and foreign broadcasts can also be seen. In 1995, there were 44 television stations. In 2000, there were about 695 radios and 789 television sets for every 1,000 people. About 77 of every 1,000 people subscribed to cable television. The same year, there were about 140 personal computers in use for every 1,000 people. In 2001, there were 41 Internet service providers serving 310,000 users.

Latvia publishes many newspapers, periodicals, and books, in both Latvian and Russian. The most widely read newspapers (with 2002 circulations) are Diena ( The Day , 110,000), Sovietskaya Latviya ( Soviet Latvia, 71,300), SM Segodna ( a Russian language daily, 65,000 ), and Riga Balss ( The Voice, 56,800). Foreign language newspapers the weekly Baltic Times in English.

The constitution provides for free speech and a free press, and the government is said to respect these rights in practice. A 1991 Press Law prohibits censorship of the press or other mass media.

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