The Russian public broadcaster RT must stop broadcasting German-language programs in Germany because it “does not have the necessary broadcasting license”, the German Licensing and Supervision Commission (ZAK) announced on Wednesday.
The state-run RT has been accused of being a propaganda tool for the Kremlin and spreading disinformation. He announced plans in March 2021 for a German-language channel. However, the plan was quickly met with doubts over whether the channel would receive a license.
The channel, called RT DE, went on the air in December 2021, saying it had a Serbian license for cable and satellite transmission that allowed broadcasts in Germany.
German regulators quickly took action and within a week RT DE was removed from the European satellite network. However, it was still available online and through a mobile app.
RT says it will defy the ban
On Wednesday, ZAK said those services should be halted immediately, along with satellite broadcasting.
The regulator said Berlin-based operator RT DE Productions GmbH had no “legitimate permit under European law” to operate in Germany, adding that no other applications had been made or granted.
RT DE said on Wednesday it would challenge the decision in court and says its Serbian broadcasting license complies with EU law.
Its parent company, RT, said on Wednesday it would not stop broadcasting despite the ban.
“This is complete nonsense. We won’t stop broadcasting,” RT editor Margarita Simonyan said on Twitter.
She said it was as if the Russian media regulator was “banning Deutsche Welle from broadcasting on its own website”.
In Germany, tensions on the RT DE channel are turning into wider diplomatic tensions between Europe and Russia.
In January, during a meeting with German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov warned against blocking RT and said there could be consequences for German media operating in Russia.
“The important thing for us is that Russian journalists feel comfortable and are not discriminated against,” Lavrov said.
by the state news agency Tass.
In September, YouTube shut down two German-language RT channels, alleging they were spreading misinformation about the coronavirus.
Luxembourg last year rejected an application for a license from RT for German-language broadcasting, arguing that RT DE is based in Berlin and most of its workforce is in Germany.
RT was launched in 2005 as Russia Today as a public broadcaster for international audiences. It has expanded with television and online services in English, French, Spanish and Arabic.
With its alleged pro-Kremlin line, RT has sparked controversy in many countries. In the United States, it was necessary to register as a “foreign agent”. The UK threatened to withdraw its license. RT is banned in several countries, including the former Soviet states of Lithuania and Latvia.
wmr/sms (AP, AFP, dpa)