On February 2, reports said that the German media regulator had rejected Russian state media RT (formerly Russia Today) because it did not have a proper broadcast license.
Moving upheld a decision in December, when RT DE started broadcasting in German via satellite and online based on the channel’s Serbian license. German authorities said RT never attempted to obtain a German license.
In response to the rulings, Russia appealed to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE):
“We are seriously concerned about the decision of the German broadcasting regulator to ban the transmission of RT DE,” the Russian Mission to the OSCE tweeted on the Twitter account.
“We call on the @OSCE_RfoM to assess the situation around RT DE and to remind Berlin of the need to fulfill its obligations regarding freedom of the media and access to information.”
It is misleading.
It is common practice for governments to require media to have a broadcast license. Serbia is not a member of the European Union. EU member Germany said Serbia’s license had no legal value in the EU.
It is Orwellian to say the least that Moscow complains about the freedom of the press.
Russia is known for draconian media restrictions, threats against independent journalists and impunity when they are harmed. In the World Press Freedom Index of the monitoring group Reporters Without Borders, Russia ranks near the bottom: 150th out of 180 countries assessed in 2021.
Russian authorities routinely censor foreign and domestic independent media, either forcing them to shut down by declaring them “unwanted organizations,” Where burden them with heavy restrictions and fines like “foreign agents.”
(Disclosure: The Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty were both foreign agents appointed in 2017. A naming dispute is ongoing.)
Almost immediately after German authorities reaffirmed RT’s lack of broadcasting rights, the Russian Foreign Ministry announced he would retaliate by banning the German state-run news agency Deutsche Welle in Russia and stripping DW reporters of their credentials to work there.
This last step is tougher than Germany’s withdrawal of RT’s broadcasting rights.
RT editor-in-chief Margarita Simonyan nevertheless swore that her channel would continue to broadcast To Germany. Simonyan previously described his network as similar to the Russian Ministry of Defenseboasting of being able to “drive information war against the whole western world.
The German licensing actions in December followed a decision by US video platform YouTube to suspend the German channel of RT for breaking the rules on publishing false information about the COVID-19 vaccine.
The United States is also demanding that RT’s parent nonprofit, TV-Novosti, register as a foreign agent with the United States Department of Justice, including amounts spent on programming.