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News media outlets and owners
Country report 2022

Auksė Balčytienė and Deimantas Jastramskis

Table of Contents

1. Introduction to country

Lithuania (territory of 65,286 km²; population 2.8 million people) is situated on the South-Eastern coast of the Baltic Sea. The official language of the country is Lithuanian. This is an ethnically homogeneous country, with Polish and Russian-speaking populations being the biggest minorities (6.6% and 5.8% respectively of the total population); there are 154 nationalities living in Lithuania (Population of Lithuania, 2020).

As of 2022, two media sectors remain the strongest in the country: TV and Internet-based media. Despite the pandemic challenges, quite a few Lithuanian media businesses managed to gain profit in the years 2020-2021 due to the cost-cutting and innovative solutions aimed at maximising the audience (Baltic Media Health Check 2020-2021, January 2022).

In Lithuania, media ownership-related questions have been addressed in various analyses and research studies (Balčytienė & Lauk, 2005; Juraitė, 2008; Jastramskis, 2008; Jastramskis, 2015; Jastramskis et al., 2017; Jastramskis & Plepytė-Davidavičienė, 2021), and mostly in the comparative frameworks of media concentration and media influence. As revealed, very small media markets (such as the Baltic countries) are confronted with enduring risks of media concentration (Balčytienė, 2009). In Lithuania, there are rules set to regulate (1) who can be an owner of the means of public information provision. However, there are no standards to regulate media ownership concentration, which is now regulated according to general market concentration limits applicable to all business forms.

Although there are research studies with results about the enduring trends in media (ownership) concentration and degrees of possible risks, the EurOMO analysis reveals evident shortages in availability and public accessibility of information and data about media owners and ownership types. Media Pluralism Monitor analyses for Lithuania (MPM2016-MPM2021)(2) have also consistently shown heightened risks in the dimension of ownership: it outlines deviations within the areas of political influence and insufficiencies in the procedures set to assure media ownership transparency (3).

The requirement to report on media ownership changes is listed in the law (4); this requirement, however, is fulfilled only partially. There are instruments to penalise those media groups/owners who ignore such an obligation, but these do not have a lasting effect. On the other hand, the law does not specify the period within which organisations must provide updated information on changes in ownership.

Briefly, there is lack of comprehensive data on media owners, which both the current EurOMo and the most recent MPM measurements (Balčytienė et al., 2021; Balčytienė et al., 2022), as well as other newest sources (Jastramskis & Plepytė-Davidavičienė, 2021), identify as a persistent risk factor in terms of two anticipated outcomes: development of sustainable media policy and media democratic performance. Weak features in media policy lead to ownership concentration into the hands of just few big business groups, which is revealed in increased risks to diversity and pluralism (5).

(1) Law on Provision of Information to the Public:
(2) Available at EUI Center for Media Pluralism and Media Freedom:
(3) Though the newest data (MPM2022) shows that the indicator of Transparency of Media Ownership scores within a medium range of risks (25%), which is a sign of improvement, still, an issue of developing means to assure media ownership transparency remains unresolved. In addition, there exists a somewhat systemic incongruity in relation to media types and measures to foresee ownership dynamics: audiovisual media matters (broadcast licensing and ownership changes) are registered and monitored by the designated media authority (the Radio and TV Commission), whereas print media and Internet outlets’ ownership transparency queries are addressed by the designated institution (the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Lithuania) indicated by the law.
(4) Law on Provision of Information to the Public:
(5) For example, as reported in most recent MPM2022 for Lithuania, the indicator of degree of News Media Concentration stretches up to over 90% of risk. 


2. EurOMo sample: Outlets and owners

2.1 Who owns what?

Twelve media groups with distinctive outlets were selected for the ownership transparency analysis. All these are described as representing leading news media for public opinion formation. Among these are audiovisual (radio and TV channels) and print outlets (newspapers and magazines), as well as digital natives such as Internet media and start-ups (webcasting on YouTube channel), also  producers active in national/regional and specialised (business) news markets (Table 1).

Lithuanian media market, with few exceptions, is dominated by national media owners (Table 2). Media ownership diversity is high, so is the cross-sectorial and intersectorial concentration of types of business activities (media and printing/publishing houses, real estate, telecommunications, financial investments, etc.) that each owner is financially engaged. Still, links between media ownership and natural persons exercising economic or political power are not that obvious. After examining the transparency of ownership, the next step for the EurOMo would be quite meaningful: the transparency of the activities of the media entities themselves and their owners (natural persons).

Table 1: Media outlets and legal owners (names of entities) in Lithuania

Outlet name
Market sector Editorial staff Owner name (Publisher) Owner country Legal transparency ownership
51 UAB 15min LT, EE 3
LRT televizija
TV (PSM) 77 VšĮ Lietuvos nacionalinis radijas ir televizija LT
LRT radijas Radio (PSM) 74 Web-only (PSM) 32
39 UAB All Media Lithuania LT, NL, USA 2 Web-only
Lietuvos rytas Newspapers (mid-market) 64 UAB Lietuvos rytas LT 2 Web-only
35 UAB Lrytas LT 2
NA UAB Laisvas ir nepriklausomas kanalas LT, LU 2
Info TV TV
NA UAB Laisvas ir nepriklausomas kanalas 2
Lietuvos ryto televizija TV
7 UAB Lietuvos ryto televizija LT 2
Vakaro žinios Newspapers
12 UAB Respublikos leidiniai LT 2
Savaitė Magazines
12 UAB Savaitė LT 2
Laisvės TV Video channels, YouTube
(private start-up, crowd-funded/advertising)
4 VšĮ Laisvės TV LT 2
Žinių radijas Radio
NA UAB Žinių radijas LT, USA 3
Verslo žinios Newspapers
(business daily)
37 UAB Verslo žinios LT, SE 2 Web-daily
NA 2

Table 2: Media outlets and ownership chains (from legal entities to natural persons)

Media outlet and market types Owner 1st Level Owner name 2nd Level Owner name 3rd Level Owner name 4th Level Owner name
Web only
UAB DELFI AS Ekspress Grupp (media, publishing) 100%
HHL Rühm OÜ 47,40%
Hans H. Luik 76%
Hans Luik 12%
Epp Lauk 12%
Hans H. Luik 25,9%
Web only
UAB 15min Postimees Grupp AS (media, publishing, media monitoring) 60%
MM Grupp OÜ 100%
Margus Linnamäe
Mirrow Finats OÜ 20%
Mirrow Institute OÜ 100% (24)
Aare Kurist 2%
UAB 4 Bees 40%
Tomas Balžekas 56,66%
Martynas Basokas 25,66%
Gabrielė Burbienė 10%
Bindokas Tomas 7,67%
LRT televizija
VšĮ Lietuvos nacionalinis radijas ir televizija State of Lithuania 100%   
LRT radijas
Web only
UAB All Media Lithuania UAB Bitė Lietuva (telecommunications) 100%
Bite Finance International B.V. 100%
Providence Equity Partners LLC 100% Jonathan
Nelson 100%
Web only
Lietuvos rytas
(mid market)
UAB Lietuvos rytas UAB Lietuvos rytas (media, publishing) 100%
UAB BIG group 36%
UAB Fragrances International 100%
Benas Gudelis 100%
Gedvydas Vainauskas 26,5%
Vidmantas Strimaitis 13,2%
Algimantas Budrys 8,6%
Algirdas Kumža 7,2%
Web only
UAB Lrytas
UAB Laisvas ir nepriklausomas kanalas UAB MG media (investment and holding company) 80%
UAB MG Investment 100%
UAB MG Grupė 100%
Darius Mockus 100%
Amber Trust S.C.A. (investments fund) 20%

Info TV
(news and information)
Lietuvos ryto televizija
UAB Lietuvos ryto televizija UAB Singing fish
(film studio and productions)
Povilas Skaisgirys 100%
Vakaro žinios
UAB Respublikos leidiniai UAB Respublikos investicija 74%
Vitas Tomkus 41%
Lina Tomkienė 19,66%
Justinas Tomkus 19,66%
Rytis Tomkus 19,66%

Justinas Tomkus 15%
Rytis Tomkus 10%
UAB Savaitė Asta Jelinskienė 75%
Aleksandras Maceina 25%
Laisvės TV
Video channel (start-up YouTube)
VšĮ Laisvės TV Andrius Tapinas 100%
Žinių radijas
UAB Žinių radijas UAB Litvalda (investments into commercial real estate company) 99,9%
Augustinas Rakauskas 76,95%
Agnietė Pitkauskienė 18%

American Equitable Finance Corporation 0,1%
Verslo žinios
UAB Verslo žinios Bonnier Business Press AB 80%
Tidnings AB Marieberg 100%
Bonnier News Sweden AB 100% Bonnier Media Holding AB 100% (25)
Rolandas Barysas 20%
(24) Mirrow Institute OÜ owned 100% by Ivar Vendelin.
(25) Bonnier Media Holding AB 100% owned by Bonnier AB 100% owned by Bonnier Group AB 100% owned by Albert Bonnier AB 20% and over 90 members of the Bonnier family 80%.

2.2 Main ownership patterns

In Lithuania, the media outlets analyzed are founded in the form of ‘limited liability company’ (in Lithuanian: Uždaroji akcinė bendrovė, UAB), with an exception of the public service media (Lithuanian Radio and Television, LRT – in Lithuanian: Lietuvos nacionalinis radijas ir televizija) and the private start-up (Laisvės TV), both of which are founded as ‘public institution’ (Viešoji įstaiga, VšĮ), which is a non-profit body.


2.3. Types of information missing

As a tradition, most information is accessible about the first-generation media owners. There are a few exceptional cases: these are Žinių radijas, the Internet media outlet, and, naturally, the public service media (the LRT group). These three media outlets reach the maximum score in the EurOMo legal transparency attribute (direct and beneficial owners are mentioned on the company’s website, see the last column in Table 1). EurOMo analysis revealed that the business daily Verslo žinios was not as transparent about its ownership as would be expected from a newsroom which follows high editorial standards towards accountability and transparency, and there is a long chain of legal actors before the end owners are reached, but not disclosed (90 members, as indicated in Table 2).


2.4. Main risks to transparency

In most cases, it seems that the private media themselves (except for 15min and Žinių radijas) do not make an effort to provide information on their websites about all significant beneficiaries. On the other hand, starting with August 2022, all organisations (including media) will be obliged to provide such information to the Center of Registers, but this will not be publicly accessible. Among the potential risks of ownership in the process of forming public opinions, it is important to mention that no information is publicly available about affiliations of natural persons with external institutions (political party, business interests). This creates a window for potential risks of political/business influence (6). Another risk area for transparency assurance is the public funding. Media policy decision-makers must establish rules to set in the clarity for publicity funds distributed to state institutions/ministries and municipalities (7).

(6) There is only one case of political affiliation in the studied sample.
(7) The risk is specific to publicity funds and lack of transparency in rules how these are distributed. Information on direct subsidies (received through Media Support Fund) to all private media sectors and the public service broadcaster is made public. Data on the number of VAT benefits (indirect subsidies) granted to the press are not systematically evaluated and published.

3. Distribution

3.1. Role of linear vs. non-linear distribution

The distribution system of newspapers and magazines consists of the state-owned company Lietuvos Paštas and private distribution organisations, which operate mainly in cities. The Lithuanian Government subsidises the service of distribution of periodical press to rural areas by paying compensation to Lietuvos Paštas (8).

Wholesale radio distribution services are provided by the state-owned company AB Lietuvos radijo ir televizijos centras, whose services are used by the majority of national radio broadcasters, as well as by regional radio stations. However, some private radio stations have their own radio transmitters. The digital radio network is not developed in Lithuania.

In 2020, there were 42 economic entities in the distribution market of television services in Lithuania. The market for pay-TV services is relatively concentrated as the leading participant AB Telia Lietuva had 47% of the revenue market in 2020.

Magazine publishers UAB Media 4 bees and UAB Savaitė operate the magazine and book distribution network Medipresa. The telecommunications company Bitė Lietuva is the owner of All Media Lithuania (television channels, websites), All Media Radio (radio channel) and All Media Digital (websites).


3.2. Relevant non-linear (digital) distributors

In Lithuania, the top popular digital intermediaries are YouTube, Facebook, and Google. Social media (Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, etc.) were regularly used as a news source in Lithuania (at least once a day) by 60% of the population in 2021. The average daily reach of Facebook in Lithuania was 38%, whereas YouTube’s average daily reach was 36.3% in 2021. Google was found to be relevant as a search engine (the average daily reach was 60.2% in 2021), but not as a news consumption (aggregation) platform.

Most media channels have Facebook accounts and use this social network to distribute content and attract users to their channel.  There are various Lithuanian audiovisual channels on the YouTube platform. The most significant media on this platform is a private start-up Laisvės TV. The public broadcaster LRT broadcasts its programs on the YouTube platform, and commercial broadcasters have accounts as well.


3.3. Main risks to (digital) transparency

With continuing digital restructurings in the media sector, Lithuanian citizens are steadily drawn to and rely on digital media and social media channels. Another tendency is revealed in changed forms of distribution (and ownership) when, next to established types of ownership, new actors such as start-ups (as is the case with Laisvės TV) are founded by journalists/civic activists and funded through crowdfunding models, advertising and subscriptions.

With new types of digital ownerships on the way, transparency in who owns what and what potential ways to influence public opinion might arise becomes even more important. Obviously, assuring digital ownership transparency is an issue of regulation. Nonetheless, this is also a media and information literacy (MIL) policy-related matter: there is particularly little knowledge on how digital information is arranged and what businesses can influence it. With the proliferation of information disorders and disruptions (9), MIL definitions and policies must be broadened to acknowledge types of businesses/corporations owning media and inciting decision-making power in hybrid communications. In short, digital ownership transparency needs to be broadened to take into account these issues: (a) accessibility of data, (b) extent and public meaningfulness of data collected and provided, and (c) corporate accountability and reliability of data provided.

(8) In 2020, it amounted to 7 million euros.
(9) Information abundance, fake narratives, disinformation, manipulations, online hate speech, etc.


4. Legal framework

4.1. Which laws concern transparency in media ownership and control

In general, Lithuania follows a liberal approach in media regulation. Lithuania has no specific legislation restricting the concentration of ownership or market share of media organisations. The media business is regulated as in all other economic areas in line with the dominant position statement, which is considered when the market share of the entity is at least 40 per cent.

Laws regulating these statements are the main media law, the Law on Provision of Information to the Public (10), the Law on Competition, and the Law on Political Parties of the Republic of Lithuania. Media concentration regulation follows general rules listed in the Law on Competition. The Competition Council is responsible for the mergers of all economic entities.

According to the Law on Provision of Information to the Public (Article 24), Lithuania requires media owners to disclose ownership changes by reporting to the designated institution, which is the Ministry of Culture. The same law imposes certain restrictions on the control of media ownership. The state and municipal institutions and other organisations, except for research and study/education institutions and legal persons, whose founder or shareholder is the state/municipality, may not be producers of public information. Political parties and banks  also cannot be owners of media means in Lithuania. Other obvious limitations to ownership are statements in the law that a broadcasting (retransmission) license shall not be issued to an applicant if the person who can directly or indirectly control the outlet was convicted for a crime against the independence of the State of Lithuania, the integrity of the territory, and the constitutional order, if the person poses a threat to national security or is affiliated with, or maintains contact with, organised crime groups, foreign special services, or groups affiliated with international terrorist organisations.


4.2. Correspondence to normative expectations

As a tradition, different countries apply diverse legislative measures towards media ownership. For small markets such as Lithuania, media concentration in the hands of just a few powerful owners is considered a justified threat to pluralism as this might lead to reduction of content diversity and plurality of voices.

In Lithuania, as implied from media policy, the purpose of instilled regulation (also taking into account the unfinished integrated Information System of Producers and Disseminators of Public Information: Virsis)(11) is to increase the publicity, transparency, and accountability of the activities of producers and disseminators of public information by ensuring the possibility for the public and competent state institutions to monitor, analyze, and evaluate data on media producers, disseminators, and their activities specified by law (12). Although the Law requires the disclosure of detailed data on media owners, they will be collected and published when the information system will start operating.


4.3. Main risks

Public policy documents (13) in Lithuania take into account the characteristics of the geopolitical context (14) by stressing requests to strengthen media literacy, digital competencies, and digital resilience of groups of people (children and youth, minorities, seniors, professionals); prioritising the need for media support; indicating but insufficiently addressing problems of media in the regions. In addition to requests for economic transparency of media ownership and media performance, a stronger emphasis needs to be placed on the transparency of (political) interests and influence.

(10) Law on Provision of Information to the Public:
(11) “Virsis” is an integrated system on public information producers that is designed (but not yet practically implemented) to provide data on information producers and providers registered in the Republic of Lithuania: their management, type of activities, persons responsible for content, licenses, income received (from political advertising, funds, natural persons, etc.).
(12) Law on Provision of Information to the Public:
(13) Nacionalinio saugumo strategija, 2021 (National Security Strategy). Available at:; Lietuvos Respublikos piliečių rengimo pilietiniam pasipriešinimui strategija (Strategy for Preparing Citizens for Civil Resistance), Available at:; Lietuvos Respublikos Kultūros Ministerijos Visuomenės informavimo politikos strateginės kryptys 2019-2022 (Strategic Directions of the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Lithuania Public Information Policy 2019-2022), Available at:; The 18th Programme of Government ( XVIII Vyriausybės programa)  Available at:
(14) The second decade of the 21st century has brought the intensification of information disruptions and propaganda from Russia and China. The 2020s is marked by new risks and crises as a result of ever-deepening and widespreading disinformation and malign information attacks linked to the global pandemic and the Russian invasion and war in Ukraine.


Discussion and conclusions

Although for the majority of audiences the conventional news media channels, such as print or broadcast media, do not appear as primary choices for searching information, conventional news media remain an important player (15) in the digitally mediated communications arena. Though overall trust rates in media are low, people would choose as most important sources for news: commercial

TV channels (63%), LRT TV (61%), national commercial portals (60%), social networks (57%), YouTube/blogs (50%), relatives/friends (76%) (16).

Knowing who (physical persons and entities) are active players and own/control information production and distribution and what potential spheres of influence might arise from these varying forms of ownership has always been listed as an issue of heightened significance. Nonetheless, with accelerating digital transformations, intensified information disruptions (an influx of disinformation and misinformation), and growing malign information campaigns, such as instigations to conflict, the upswings towards radical and populist politics, hate speech, etc., knowledge of who (which interest groups, businesses, and countries) controls digital media infrastructures becomes of primary significance in today’s Europe.

Although there was a moment in time when it seemed that restrictions imposed on media ownership in Lithuania might have limiting effects on political diversity in the country, from today’s perspective such a regulatory constraint and imposed safeguards towards (political) ownership are considered an advancement, and there are no media owned by hostile influences. Nevertheless, there are cases when private owners may have opaque interests and connections, and this becomes the subject for fact-checking and investigations for journalists. There are extensive journalistic fact-finding analyses accomplished by the LRT and Delfi fact-checking units/newsrooms (17), which expose persistent campaigns of Kremlin propaganda in Lithuania, which are organised via networks of natural persons (also politicians) and local organisations spreading false and conspiracy information on social networks and pseudo-media outlets registered in the country.

To conclude, drawing an extensive picture on media ownership is a demanding and time-consuming matter. As specified, in Lithuania, already back in 2019, there has been a well-coordinated plan announced to establish Virsis, an integrated database about all public information producers and distributors, where all media owners and their economic activities (beneficial owners, turnover, profit, profit from direct and indirect sources: government support/advertising, etc.) would be shown (18). However, this plan is yet to be completed. The Ministry of Culture anticipates achieving the implementation in 2023.

Judging from the EurOMo exercise, the examination of media ownership structures (owners, networks) in Lithuania is not yet defined as a financially expensive process. The secondary data on economic indicators of companies (turnover, revenues) is accessible via the (19), which is a private initiative sustained by the business daily Verslo žinios. is a good secondary source, yet its primary focus is not ownership, but economic performance of business entities in Lithuania. Data fed to comes from the Center of Registers, as well as the State Social Insurance Fund. There is always a risk that such a private initiative will be closed, and no data will be publicly available for research and analysis.

All in all, for most media users who would be interested to find out more information on who is behind the publication (20), searching through such private initiatives (first, people must be aware of the availability of such projects!) or accessing company register does not seem to be realistic.

Briefly, there is a lack of systematic approach to media ownership transparency assurance in Lithuania. There is also a lack of a detailed analysis of the diverse factors (regulatory framework and effectiveness/performance analyses) influencing the situation, which calls to be defined as of limited efficiency.

On a final note, there is one more issue which attracted our attention. In academic analyses, ‘ownership transparency’ problem has been mostly addressed in the frame of assuring higher standards for economic/business transparency of media entities. Yet, there are new requests arising from a rapidly changing communications arena and persisting uncertainties in the geopolitical context in Europe, so a number of new questions linked to information/communication disruptions (21) must be thought about and, possibly, also tackled in the context of ‘ownership transparency’ (22).

(15)  In August 2021, Lithuania had the lowest confidence in the media since 1998: 24.8% trusted the media and 33.4% did not, whereas in May 2022, half of the surveyed people did not trust the Lithuanian media, and slightly less than half trusted it (46% trusted and 50% did not).
(16) The role of media in the Baltics (
(17) Investigative reports on propaganda networks in Lithuania disclosed by fact-checking and investigative units of the LRT (with and Delfi:;
(18) irsis (Viešosios informacijos rengėjų ir skleidėjų informacinė sistema) will provide data on information producers and providers registered in the Republic of Lithuania: their management, type of activities, persons responsible for content, licenses, income received (from political advertising, funds, natural persons, etc.). In order to ensure relevance and accuracy of the collected data, an integrated system of state informations resources (registers) will be formed on the basis of: The Register of Legal Entities, Integrated Tax Information System, Information System of the Central Ellectoral Commission, Integrated Library Information System, and other resources. More Information (in Lithuanian):
(20) Data is made publicly available via the Ministry of Culture database of information producers/disseminators and through public initiative by Transparency International Vilnius Bureu project 
(21) Media ownership transparency must be explored in line with heightened efforts to assure digital resilience. For that, more systematic ‘forms of knowing’ of who (persons, groups, businesses) is behind the digital information infrastructures and media networks must be developed.
(22) Some relevant questions: What has significantly changed in communications arena/infrastructures in Europe, and what problems are arising as a result of these digital transformations that require to address the issue of media ownership transparency with a new attitude? Who are the owners (private and legal persons, groups, secondary businesses), and what are their potential networks of (political, economic, cultural) influence across different countries and regions in Europe? How widespread is the problem of media ownership ‘transparency’ in Europe: what types of data are missing, what is the ‘relevance’ of the missing data, and how the gaps in the current systems of data collection must be corrected? What are variations in regulation and legal safeguards to protect/restrict media ownership in different legal/political/cultural contexts and traditions?



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Country report published in September 2022