Supreme administrative court litigation in a fair trial and media-law case

Our Dispute Resolution team has successfully represented a foreign entity that provides media services worldwide at the Supreme administrative court after referral to the Court of Justice of the European Union for a preliminary ruling.

The Lithuanian Radio and Television Commission issued a decision to oblige re-broadcasters of programming schedules within 12 months of the decision‘s entry into force, to disseminate the programming schedule only in the programming schedule packages which are disseminated for an additional payment. This resulted in a factual restriction of the freedom of reception of a TV program for a period of time.

The parties disputed regarding provisions of the Law on the provision of information to the public; the Audiovisual media services directive 2010/13; the Treaty on Functioning of the European Union; and the European Convention on Human Rights. The case was very complex not only in regards to the law but factual circumstances: every available member of the Lithuanian Radio and Television Commission who approved the decision was examined together with lawyers and employees of the Commission.

Two main points were addressed in the decision of the Supreme administrative court. Firstly, the Court stated that the entity has the right to challenge the decision of the Lithuanian Radio and Television Commission. Secondly, the Court established infringement of the entity’s right to be heard in the procedure carried out by the Commission. Such an infringement was established as essential, therefore the decision of the Lithuanian Radio and Television Commission to oblige re-broadcasters of programming schedules to disseminate the programming schedule only in the paid programming schedule packages for 12 months was annulled as unlawful. The court went at great length in summarizing practice regarding the fair trial and the right to be heard, which were infringed by the Lithuanian Radio and Television Commission.

Experience