A 2 min read

Media regulation – years of monitoring and proactive participation pays off

The purpose behind the continuous monitoring of a client’s regulatory environment is to react immediately and decisively when issues appear. Media is one of the sectors constantly under discussion by policy makers, and to this day continues to be an area which requires sustained attention. 

Since 2009, and acting under the request of the largest TV channel in Lithuania, META have been ardently following all of the initiatives relevant to the TV industry, while simultaneously and actively, participating in the legislative process. We retain close contacts with policy makers, institutions, industry associations, and experts in this field, in order to garner the most relevant intelligence, and ensure quality representation of our client’s interests. 

Here are some examples of META’s past roles. 

Transposition of the Audiovisual Media Service Directive

The Audiovisual Media Service Directive (AVMSD) was first introduced in 2010 and transposition to the Lithuanian law followed soon after. The updated version was approved in 2018 while the latest AVMSD transposition ended in January 2021. META experts were part of the initial process – back then they analysed and submitted comments on the draft laws.

Our extensive experience in the sector, and active participation in the transposition of the AVMSD, has helped to ensure balanced changes, avoid unreasonable limitations, requirements, and dispense with administrative burdens across the industry. 

Our extensive experience in the sector, and an active participation in the transposition of the AVMSD, has helped to ensure balanced changes, avoid unreasonable limitations, requirements, and dispense with administrative burdens across the industry. 

Fighting disinformation

Lithuania’s geopolitical situation has made the sphere of public information vulnerable to disinformation coming from the east. Various EU-based, but third-country-controlled TV channels have been intentionally spreading illegal content, including war propaganda and hate speech. 

Until the end of 2015, our national regulator – the Radio and Television Commission of Lithuania – has had very limited powers to control, or prevent this flow of content. This encouraged a debate on the expansion of the legal tools available to the institution. While representing one of the largest content re-broadcasters, META participated in drafting the regulation that now allows the regulator to block such content, or oblige rebroadcasters to move the content to paid channels. Our aim was to ensure that the new control mechanism would be efficient and well-balanced – in line with the EU regulation – without imposing unreasonable requirements for the whole rebroadcasting industry.  

Meta team

Laurynas Gečas Project Coordinator

Anastazija Peciukonė Account Director

A 1 min read

Pro-active corporate responsibility during the pandemic

Most large businesses openly advocate their values to their partners and employees; however, the COVID pandemic has put corporate social responsibility to the test. The onset of the crisis became a time for businesses to make good on their commitments. At the same time, while possessing the financial resources to do so, many corporations are still in need of local assistance for the most effective use of any assistance they are willing to provide.

The Coca-Cola Company is one such organisation which has taken its social responsibility seriously from the very beginning of the pandemic.

The Coca-Cola Company is one such organisation which has taken its social responsibility seriously from the very beginning of the pandemic. The company has donated large quantities of soft drinks and mineral water to the medical personnel and border guards on the front lines of the Covid-19 response. META, as the company’s local intelligence agency, has helped to coordinate and facilitate the donation and logistics processes involved.

The Coca-Cola Foundation also provided substantial financial support to address the shortage of PPE equipment for medical professionals directly involved in the fight against COVID-19. In March 2020, META assisted the Foundation in sourcing a trusted local NGO which could be the recipient of the support. In April 2020, the Coca-Cola Foundation confirmed a grant award of 100,000 USD to the Lithuanian Medical Movement supporting the purchase of respirators for medics.

In both cases, META has ensured the transparent and organised implementation of the Client’s social responsibility aspirations from the beginning to the end of the entire process.

Meta team

Andrius Reznikovas Account Manager

Andrius Romanovskis Partner

A 1 min read

Ridesharing regulation – bringing legitimacy to the sector

Ridesharing services appeared on the Lithuanian market back in 2015. At that time, the service operated in a grey-zone worldwide. In Lithuania, the status was also unclear, falling under the banner of neither taxi, nor driver-hire service. The project’s goal was to legitimise the service, with the hopes that other markets could follow this approach.

The META team was entrusted to moderate a successful launch in Vilnius. 

It included:

  • Organizing meetings with the main municipal and state-level stakeholders.
  • Getting approval from the Government’s leadership, enabling the service-provider to proceed to launch. Responsible institutions were encouraged to quickly adopt the necessary regulation.
  • Preparing regulatory proposals and argumentation materials on how the legal framework should look.
  • Getting support from business organizations.
  • Active participation in the legislative process, followed by a publicity campaign.  

In October 2016 Lithuania became the first EU country to adopt ridesharing regulation.

In October 2016 Lithuania became the first EU country to adopt ridesharing regulation. It was also the first country worldwide whose tax administrator signed a memorandum of understanding with a ridesharing company.

The META team continues to monitor ridesharing regulations in Lithuania. We also actively participated in the consideration of the amendments to the original law. These considerations were adopted in 2019. 

A 2 min read

Tax free shopping – removing barriers to ensure competitiveness

Visitors to the EU, who are about to leave the jurisdiction for a destination outside the EU, may be afforded the possibility of buying goods free of VAT. However, the specific rules governing any refunds are established individually by each member state.

Since 2002, Lithuania has had one of the EU’s most restrictive tax free shopping regulations. These regulations included a complex list of purchase categories which are deemed non-refundable; alcohol, tobacco products, car lubricants, gold coins, precious stones, etc. In comparison to Lithuania’s regulations, many EU member States merely require that goods purchased must fit in personal luggage, and remain in their original packaging.

Lithuania also had a requirement for visitors to spend at least 55 EUR in order to facilitate a VAT refund. In comparison, the minimum purchase amount in Spain, UK, and Germany was 0 EUR, while neighbouring countries had set lower limits towards that of Lithuania, Latvia – 44 EUR, and Estonia – 38 EUR. 

The possibility of a VAT refund encourages retail tourism, attracting flows of traffic from neighbouring countries. 

The possibility of a VAT refund encourages retail tourism, attracting flows of traffic from neighbouring countries. 

This increased flow of traffic also comes as a welcome boost to other indigenous industries, such as, hotels, restaurants, transportation, and many more. As the logical follow-on of having competitive VAT refund regulations, the benefits to the entire country cannot be overestimated.

In 2018 META was hired by one of the leading TAX Free Shopping service providers with the brief of initiating a review of Lithuania’s Tax free Shopping regulation. The goal was to remove unreasonable restrictions, and allow more digital service options across the entire refund process. 

The project consisted of the following vital steps:

  • Information gathering and analysis on VAT refund regulations across other EU States; the market specifics in Lithuania and its EU neighbours; the benefits of a VAT refund industry and associated digital services. 
  • Preparation of information materials to advocate for change;
  • Identification of the most relevant stakeholders and making contact through dialogue.
  •  Ensuring involvement of the largest business associations throughout the process.
  • Monitoring and advocacy of the client’s interests during the consideration of new regulations. 

In June 2020, the Lithuanian Government approved the new rules on VAT refund for visitors and tourists. The minimum purchase amount is now 40 EUR. VAT is also refunded for any goods that remained unused, in their original form, and intended for personal use. As of 1st January, 2022 , new digital services will be available to travellers at Customs posts. This ensures a decrease in manual work for Custom’s officials, and more convenience for travellers.

A 1 min read

Big Tech needs help too

Modern technology companies are armed with some of the best data-collection-tools available. However, despite the amount of data capable of being gathered, Big Tech is still faced with limitations in perceiving public policy processes across many international jurisdictions. 

In the context of digital transformation, a clear understanding of the regulatory field has never been in higher demand. Thus, a local intelligence support team providing an up-to-date analysis is capable of filling any gaps in the information and metrics gathering process. 

In 2020, META team was entrusted as the local intelligence support team for one prestigious Big Tech company. Our tasks include:

  • Providing regular reports analysing legislative initiatives and relevant political news. 
  • Following the transposition of various EU Directives, informing the Client regarding updates in the legislative process. 
  • Preparing reports and briefings on various events and conferences. 
  • Collecting information on the political trends and priorities.

Besides these day-to-day tasks, META has helped the Client in fulfilling its socially responsible aspirations through their support of the non-profit sector – COVID-19 affected individuals and businesses achieving a quicker and more inclusive recovery. We have analysed the non-profit landscape and helped the Client to find innovative NGOs who demonstrate the potential of using digital, and innovative technologies for social benefit. 

META team continues being the Client’s eyes and ears on the ground; providing monitoring and intelligence gathering services on digital policy topics in Lithuania.

Meta team

Laurynas Gečas Project Coordinator

Anastazija Peciukonė Account Director

A 1 min read

Proactive crisis management

Lithuania’s strict FinTech strategy has ensured that the right steps have been taken by the relevant institutions. This in turn has led to a large number of startups receiving licences to open their offices in the country. The financial sector is of key importance to the country’s national security, ensuring that Lithuania has one of the strictest regulations governing any activities that may compromise that security. Because of this, a company’s reputation is of paramount importance, and essential for a smooth launch and further operation.

In 2019 one of the top Fintech startups in Lithuania was facing such a reputational crisis and came to META seeking help. 

In an attempt to switch the discourse, META recommended that the wisest course of action was to take a proactive step forward. The company itself proactively requested the Commission for a re-inspection, in order to dispel any doubts regarding its activities in Lithuania.

Even though the company had successfully gone through multiple security screenings, an influential politician raised concerns regarding the process involved; most specifically, its shareholder’s ties with Lithuania’s eastern neighbours. The topic was widely discussed, both in Parliament and in the media. There was an initiative taken to approve the Parliament’s resolution, requesting the Government’s Commission to re-inspect the startup’s compliance with national security regulations.

In an attempt to switch the discourse, META recommended that the wisest course of action was to take a proactive step forward. The company itself proactively requested the Commission for a re-inspection, in order to dispel any doubts regarding its activities in Lithuania. A pursuant lack of confrontation stopped the debate in its tracks, and removed all interest in the topic, even as the Parliament approved the resolution. The Commission’s conclusion was at once positive, and the subject was closed. 

A 1 min read

Energy drinks – the defeat that turned out to be a win-win

On 1 November, 2014 Lithuania became the first country in the world to enact a law banning the sale of energy drinks to under-18-year-olds.

This decision was the outcome of a lengthy Parliamentary battle between the industry and the proponents of the ban. The initial draft law was registered in 2010, but was subsequently rejected by the Committee on Health Affairs. A second version was registered in 2012 and was once again rejected by the Committee. The draft law received the support needed for its approval, only after the initiator of the ban became the Chair of the Committee. 

The industry was continually active during the whole consideration process. They communicated the position via formal letters, roundtables, stakeholder engagement, and media events. Before the final vote, the Public Health Institute of Vilnius University released a survey on caffeine consumption in Lithuania. The results revealed that coffee, chocolate, and tea are the most consumed caffeine containing products in the country. Only 10% of the population consumed energy drinks at least once a month. When compared to other EU countries, the proportion of adolescents consuming energy drinks was measured as being the lowest. It affirmed that restrictions on the sale of energy drinks were not relevant in the Lithuanian context. However, the results were not taken into consideration when the decision regarding the ban was made in Parliament.

Looking back with the perspective of hindsight, we can now see that the ban has had no negative effects on the energy drink industry. On the contrary, this category has received far less negative media coverage than comparable sectors.

Looking back with the perspective of hindsight, we can now see that the ban has had no negative effects on the energy drink industry. On the contrary, this category has received far less negative media coverage than comparable sectors. Since the installation of the ban there have been almost no media articles ‘demonising’ energy drinks in any way. Previous to this, there was evidence of over a hundred such publications a year. In fact, sales have been showing double-digit growth over the past several years. So, it is safe to assume that this has been a win-win situation. The politicians successfully fulfilled their policy priorities, and the industry is now growing stronger without negative feedback.

Meta team

Andrius Reznikovas Account Manager

Andrius Romanovskis Partner

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