TV service tells story of Latvians in Ireland

Latvians in Ireland now have their own television service, Latviešu Televīzija Īrijā, created by a team of former media professionals working under less than ideal conditions.

The television service, available online at, began work after a number of Latvian immigrants in Ireland came together to make a fun video for April 1. All of them had worked in various television jobs back in Latvia, LTĪ spokesperson and consultant Sandra Bondarevska said in an interview from her home in Dublin.

From that they got the idea for the Latvian television service, which not only creates news programs but also special videos.

One of the reasons for LTĪ, Bondarevska explained, stems from the desire to tell a story of the immigrants that is different from the one sometimes presented by media in Latvia.

“The whole story of what is happening here is not presented,” Bondarevska said. “That stereotype about the mushroom pickers is deep.”

Visitors to the Web site will not find much material yet—and certainly not the daily news reports once promised by LTĪ. Available are a few short newscasts featuring the often expressionless anchor Andris Pūce and some special reports on recent cultural events, including one of the June 21 celebration of Jāņi near Dublin. For a shoestring operation, the newscasts are impressive. The May 12 program is especially well done, with several solid stories complete with “B-roll.”

But don’t all of you go rushing off at once to view the Web site. Bondarevska warned that one of the concerns the group has is server capacity. Even with just a few people concurrently watching videos, the site can slow down significantly. To get around the problem, LTĪ has started posting its video to the popular YouTube service. Therein lies another problem: YouTube limits videos to 10 minutes, meaning LTĪ cannot post longer reports online.

The LTĪ crew also is limited by technology and time. Although digital technology has improved vastly since some of them were actively working in Latvian television, it still can be expensive to purchase quality recording and editing equipment.

“We film in the most basic of conditions,” said Bondarevska, whose television career included work for Ogres TV and Latvian State Television. “I tell these television guys that it’s a question of a couple of years, and all these technical things that slow us down will be resolved.”

And unlike when their day jobs revolved around a television studio, the Latvian immigrants now have other work that takes priority, making LTĪ more an avocation. Money earned from those jobs helps to fund the television service.

LTĪ also does not have sponsors and is cautious about entering into any such financial relationships, Bondarevska said. While the support would help the service, the LTĪ crew wants to maintain editorial independence.

“Yes, it’s a plaything, it’s a game,” Bondarevska said, “but it’s our game.”

LTĪ is still in its infancy, testing ideas and the means to realize them. Future directions might include offering DVDs of programs, working with a Dublin cable televison outlet to reach a wider audience, taping games of the Latvian Hawks hockey team and creating an “open microphone” program that would allow Latvian immigrants an opportunity to voice their opinions about life in Ireland.

Added Bondarevska: “I think Latvians in Ireland have much to say.”

Latviešu Televīzija Īrijā

Latvians in Ireland now have their own online television service. Newscasts are delivered by anchor Andris Pūce.

Andris Straumanis is a special correspondent for and a co-founder of Latvians Online. From 2000–2012 he was editor of the website.

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