VILNIUS: Lithuanian television survived the onslaught of foreign programming beginning in the 1990‘s and is pulling out of the financial crisis of 2009. The result is a return to domestic production, with local acclaim and even international sales, and a new increase in advertising prices (by some 15%) that will allow commercial channels to become more competitive.
Lithuania has three national broadcasters: public broadcaster Lithuanian National Radio and Television(LRT, www.lrt.lt), which operates two national television and three radio channels; foreign-owned commercial channel TV3 (www.tv3.lt ) owned by Modern Times Group (www.mtg.se); and commercial channel LNK (www.lnk.lt) also known as Laisvas ir Nepriklausomas Kanalas ("Free and Independent Channel") owned by MG Baltic Group (www.mgbaltic.lt). LNK channel competes with TV3 for the market leader position. A fourth broadcaster, commercial channel BTV (www.btv.lt/), is owned by Achemos Group (www.achemosgrupe.lt). The financial crisis of 2009 and the drop in advertising revenues led to the exit of the popular local language youth channel MTV Networks Baltic, which was replaced by MTV Europe.
Domestic series, which were largely absent from Lithuanian television after an influx of foreign capital and foreign programming in the 1990's, have had a revival in recent years. LNT now devotes 35% of its air time to original programmes. In the summer of 2009, LNK introduced a dating show Next (Kitas). It broadcasts the country's most popular music show, Star Duets ( Žvaigždžių duetai); two new domestic series: City of Feelings (Jausmų miestas) and Stolen Happiness (Pavogta laimė); and a serial coproduced with the U.S., Attila the Hun (Hunas Atila), a romanticized story of the famed conqueror beginning in childhood with the death of his parents.
One of TV3's most popular shows is the adapted format Chorus Wars. Its new programme line-up, starting at the end of June, includes three new acquired shows: the Ukrainian cult comedy Svaty, El Triunfo De Amor with Victoria Ruffo, and the U.S. ABC series Body of Proof. TV3 is currently airing three new domestic series: Naisiai Summer (Naisių vasara) targeted for the female audience; the action series Who Wants to Kill Mia? (Kas nori nužudyti Mią?); and Condemn (Pasmerkti), a crime series.
LRT airs the largest share of local production. It includes the locally produced game show for children Lithuanian Millennium Children which debuted in 2008. The programme received international attention and is distributed by the Norwegian company NordicWorld. In fall 2011 adaptations of the format will air in Norway and Kazakhstan, and is already airing on Belarus TV.
LRT has the longest history of domestic series as well. The station recently recycled its iconic domestic series The Relatives (Giminės) which first aired in 1993, producing 12 new episodes under the title The Relatives 20 Years Later, which won the national Silver Crane Award.