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'We made a lot of stupid mistakes' TV Rain CEO Natalia Sindeeva on the news that Latvia is stripping the network's broadcast license
On the morning of December 6, Latvian authorities revoked the broadcast license of the independent Russian news channel TV Rain, which has been banned in Russia since March. Latvia's National Electronic Mass Media Council (NEPLP) said that the network poses a “threat to national security and the public order.” The decision was made against the backdrop of a heated public debate sparked by an ambiguous on-air statement made by TV Rain host Alexey Korostelev about the war in Ukraine. Meduza special correspondent Svetlana Reiter spoke with TV Rain founder and CEO Natalia Sindeeva immediately after the decision was announced.
— What do you plan to do now that TV Rain's license has been revoked in Latvia?
— I don’t know what to tell you. Look, I didn’t sleep all night. It must have been an hour ago that I finally got to sleep. I haven’t been able to stop thinking about this for four days.
— Did you try to talk to the Latvian authorities and negotiate with them?
— To be honest, we didn’t try to negotiate with anybody. All of these conversations took place in public. I don’t know, we’ll solve it. I wasn’t ready for this. I was confident that they [the Latvian authorities] wouldn’t do this.
— Do you have some understanding of why Latvia did this?
— I think there are a lot of factors involved.
— How will losing the broadcasting license affect TV Rain's work? Do you have any idea yet?
— No. We just have to stop operating in Latvia completely, from cable broadcasting.
— How will that affect your channel’s work?
— Not super drastically, but we’ll lose the money from the cable networks.
— Latvian ones?
— Not only Latvian ones, because if we don’t have a license, we can’t broadcast [on any cable networks].
— What percent of your revenue does that account for?
— Right now, as you can understand, we don’t have very much revenue. It’s probably about 20 percent.
— Have you discussed moving to a different country?
— We’ve been thinking about it for a long time now — but it’s not that easy.
— Do you regret firing Korostelev right now?
— I regret everything right now. We made a lot of stupid mistakes. There wasn’t a single good thing we could have done.
— Why do you think so?
— Because we were acting emotionally, because [Alexey] Korostelev’s mistake… to us, it like a complete nightmare coming from all sides, and everybody would turn their backs on us — Ukrainians, Latvians… Which, in fact, they did.
It seemed to us like such a disaster that against the backdrop of all of the comments that were pouring in from all directions… Clearly, the decision [to fire Korostelev] was made quickly, emotionally, suddenly. We didn’t have the strength to stop and think.
Of course, people shouldn’t be fired for mistakes — and we all knew that was a mistake. We could have taken him off the air, stopped, thought about it. What we did was wrong, and we understood that what we were doing was wrong. We feel horrible about it, of course.
Translation by Sam Breazeale
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