President’s office protests state TV’s failure to play anthem on New Year’s

President Valdis Zatlers’ office has complained to Latvia’s electronic media licensing board about the failure of state television to play the national anthem after his New Year’s Eve speech.

The chancery has sent a letter to Ābrams Kleckins, head of the National Council of Electronic Mass Media (Nacionālā elektronisko plašsaziņas līdzekļu padome), asking for an investigation, according to a Jan. 3 announcement from the president’s press office.

Usually after the president’s New Year’s Eve speech on Latvian State Television, the national anthem is played. But on Dec. 31 residents of the country received “an unpleasant surprise” when the anthem was not heard, according to the press release.

Playing of the national anthem after the speech on state television is a tradition and raises feelings of festivity and patriotism, according to the press release. For this reason, changing the tradition should not be allowed. The president’s office also noted that commercial broadcasters that aired the president’s speech in fact did play the anthem.

Although state television may not be legally required to play the national anthem after the president’s New Year’s speech, the letter from the chancery noted that under Latvia’s electronic mass media law state broadcasters are charged with developing patriotism for an independent and democratic Latvia.

A number of Latvian State Television viewers have complained on the broadcaster’s online forum about the failure to play the national anthem. The forum administrator apologized Jan. 3 and wrote that not playing the anthem was a director’s error. The broadcaster has started its own internal investigation about the error.

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