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Media Regulations: Lithuania

 

 

 

Law on the Amendment of the Law on Elections to Municipal Councils

7 July 1994, No. I-532

(New edition by 19 October 1999, No. VIII-1369, (as amended by 19 September2002, No. IX-1080)

 

SIXTH CHAPTER

GUARANTEES OF THE ACTIVITIES OF CANDIDATES FOR COUNCILLOR

 

Article 43. The Right of a Candidate for Councilor to Speak at Meetings, to Use the Mass Media

1. After the commencement of the election campaign, candidates for councilor shall have the equal right to speak at voters' meetings or any other meetings, gatherings, conferences as well as through the state and municipal mass media, and to publicly announce his election program or the election programme of the party, political organization which has nominated him as candidate.

2. Heads of state power and government institutions, as well as heads of local authorities must help candidates for Councilor to organise meetings with voters, to obtain necessary information, with the exception of the information which is considered confidential according to laws of the Republic of Lithuania and decrees of the Government.

 

Article 44. Liability for the Violation of this Law

Persons who prevent by force, deception, threat, bribery or otherwise voters from implementing the right to vote or to be elected to councils, and to organize campaigning, as well as the members of electoral committees, other officers who have falsified election documents, counted fraudulently the votes, violated the secrecy of the voting or otherwise violated this Law, shall be held liable under laws of the Republic of Lithuania. Legal action shall also be instituted against persons who have publicized or otherwise disseminated false data about a candidate for councilor or prevented a candidate from meeting with voters.

 

Article 45. The Right of a Candidate for Councilor to be Relieved from Work or

his Service Duties during the Period of Election Campaign

Upon his request, a candidate for councilor may be relieved from work or other service duties for the period of organizing and holding the election, but no longer than for 14 days.

 

Article 46. The Immunity of a Candidate for Councilor

Without the consent of the Central Electoral Committee, during the election campaign as well as until the first sitting of a newly elected council, a candidate for councilor may not be found criminally liable, arrested, neither can administrative penalties be judicially imposed on him for the actions done during the election campaign.

 

SEVENTH CHAPTER

ELECTION CAMPAIGN

 

Article 47. The Fundamentals of an Election Campaign

1. The conditions prescribed by this Law to start campaigning shall be provided for parties, political organizations and candidates from the day the election campaign starts.

2. Campaigning may be conducted in any form or manner, provided it does not contradict the Constitution and the laws of the Republic of Lithuania.

 

Article 48. Conditions and Procedure for the Use of the Mass Media

1. Organizations that have submitted lists of candidates for elections, shall be granted the right to use the state and municipal mass media free of charge. Rules of the preparation of programmes intended for election campaigning, the actual duration and time of the National Radio and Television of Lithuania programmes shall be established by the Central Electoral Committee upon co-ordination with the heads of the National Radio and Television of Lithuania. It shall also distribute in such a manner that the principles of equality of the organizations who have submitted lists of candidates, and of the lists of candidates are preserved. Each organization who is submitting a list of candidates, shall be allotted no less than 20 minutes of radio and television time and additional time shall be allotted proportionately to the number of the lists of candidates submitted.

2. The actual time and duration of municipal radio and television programmes allotted for the election campaign shall be established by a constituency electoral committee, upon co-ordination with the heads of the radio and television, and shall be distributed in such a manner that the principles of equality of the lists of candidates are preserved.

3. The election programme of a list of candidates shall, in the manner prescribed by the Central Electoral Committee, be published by the constituency electoral committee within 20 days after it was submitted. Election programmes of the lists of candidates shall not be announced after the polling day and during the period of prohibition of election campaigning.

4. Campaigning in the commercial mass media shall be restricted only by the size of special election accounts.

5. All disputes concerning the election campaign shall be settled by the Central Electoral Committee, in compliance with the fundamentals provided for in this Law.

 

Article 49. The Publicising of Material Compromising a Candidate for Councilor and a Countering Opinion of the Candidate

1. If during the election campaign the mass media publicize some material compromising a candidate for councilor (such data may be publicized not later than: in a means of the mass media which is issued more than three times a week, 5 days prior to the election, in other means of the mass media - 10 days before the election,

but in all cases the material compromising a candidate may be publicized not later than in the issue preceding the last issue of a means of the mass media prior to the election), it must provide the candidate with a possibility of expressing a countering opinion, which consists of a short exposition of the publicized compromising material and the candidate’s reply. The extent of the countering opinion usually may not exceed the volume of the compromising material more than three times. The means of the mass media must publicize the candidate’s countering opinion within 7 days after it has been expressed, but not later than prior to the 2 days remaining before the end of the period allowed for election campaigning. If the means of the mass media itself cannot publicize the candidate’s countering opinion during the period of time set by this Law, it must with its own funds publicize the candidate’s countering opinion in another means of the mass media.

2. The material which is aimed to influence voters not to vote for an individual candidate and which contains information negatively describing the candidate shall be considered as material compromising the candidate. An opinion about the candidate publicized in the mass media (unlike the information, criteria of the truth shall not be applied to an opinion), negative as well, shall not be considered as compromising material and shall not entitle the candidate to demand publicizing of a countering opinion. A demand by the candidate’s to publicize a countering opinion may not be met also when: the material publicized does not concern him personally; the publicized material about him is not compromising; the compromising material about the candidate is publicized by him or by another candidate who is nominated on the same list of candidates or is nominated by the same party, political organization; the material contains no information describing the candidate; the candidate has already used the right to a countering opinion.

3. If the candidate has duly furnished the countering opinion to the means of the mass media, but it has not been publicized, by the decision of the Central Electoral Committee the candidate’s countering opinion shall be broadcast on the National Radio or Television of Lithuania and shall be paid for at the price of advertisements.

In this event, the means of the mass media must pay the Central Electoral Committee two times the amount of the broadcast cost.

4. If the compromising material about the candidate has been publicized during the period of time when it cannot be publicized according to this Law, by the decision of the Central Electoral Committee the candidate’s countering opinion shall be broadcast on the National Radio or Television and shall be paid for at the price of advertisements. In this instance the means of the mass media must pay the Central Electoral Committee three times the amount of the broadcast cost.

5. In all cases a countering opinion shall not be publicized during the period of the prohibition of an election campaign. Publicizing of a countering opinion shall not exempt the means of the mass media from responsibility under laws of the Republic of Lithuania.

6. When a countering opinion of the candidate is publicized by the decision of the Central Electoral Committee, the cost of publicizing established by this Law shall be exacted without suit from that means of the mass media which has publicized the material compromising the candidate during the prohibited period or has not publicized the candidate’s countering opinion in time.

 

Article 50. Releasing the Material Compromising a Party, Political Organization which has Nominated a List of Candidates and the Countering Opinion

1. If during the election campaign the mass media release the material compromising a party, political organization which has nominated a list of candidates (such data may be released not later than: in a means of the mass media which is issued more frequently than three times a week - 5 days before the election, in other means of the mass media - 10 days before the election, but in any case the material compromising the party, political organization which has nominated a list of candidates may be released not later than in the last but one issue of a means of the mass media before the election), it must provide the party, political organization or one of the branches of the party, political organization with a possibility to express a countering opinion. The countering opinion shall consist of a short exposition of the released compromising material and the party’s reply. The extent of the countering opinion usually may not exceed the volume of the compromising material more than three times. The means of the mass media must announce the countering opinion within 7 days after it has been expressed, but not later than 2 days before the prohibition of campaigning becomes effective. If the means of the mass media itself cannot announce the countering opinion during the period of time set by this Law, it must make arrangements to publicize the countering opinion with its own funds in another means of the mass media.

2. The material which is aimed at influencing voters not to vote for the candidates nominated by a specific party, political organization and which contains information negatively describing the party, political organization (its branch or division) shall be considered as compromising material. An opinion about the party, political organization announced in the mass media (unlike hard news, criteria of truth shall not apply to an opinion), including a negative opinion, shall not be considered as compromising material and shall not grant the party, political organization the right to demand announcement of a countering opinion. The demand to announce a countering opinion may also be rejected in cases when: the released material doe not concern the party, political organization; the released material is not compromising; the compromising material about the party, political organization is released by a candidate nominated by the party, political organization; the material contains no information characterizing the party, politic al organization; the party, political organization has already exercised the right to a countering opinion.

3. The party, political organization shall give its countering opinion to the means of the mass media through its representative for the elections at the Central Electoral Committee or through its representative for the elections at the constituency electoral committee. In the event the representative for elections has given the countering opinion to the means of the mass media by the due date, but it has not been made public, the countering opinion shall be broadcast, on the decision of the Central Electoral Committee, on the National Radio or Television of Lithuania and shall be paid for at the rates of advertisement fees. In this event, the means of the mass media must pay the Central Electoral Committee double the amount of the broadcast costs.

4. If the compromising material was released during the time period when its release is not permitted under this Law, by the decision of the Central Electoral Committee the candidate’s countering opinion shall be broadcast on the National Radio or Television of Lithuania and shall be paid for at the rates of advertisement fees. In this event the means of the mass media must pay the Central Electoral Committee three times the amount of the broadcast costs.

5. In any case a countering opinion shall not be announced during the period when campaigning is prohibited. Announcement of a countering opinion shall not exempt the means of the mass media from liability under the laws of the Republic of Lithuania.

6. When the countering opinion is released on the decision of the Central Electoral

Committee, the costs thereof set by this Law shall be recovered without suit from that means of the mass media which has released the compromising material during the period when such release is not permitted or has not announced the candidate’s countering opinion.


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