Saturday

20th Apr 2019

Lithuania bans Russian TV station

  • Crosses mark site of Lithuania's anti-Soviet uprising next to TV antenna in Vilnius (Photo: Lee Fenner)

Lithuania’s media watchdog has blocked broadcasts by Russian TV channel RTR Planeta on grounds of inciting hatred over Ukraine.

Its Radio and Television Commission took the decision on Wednesday (8 April), with the three-month ban to enter into force on 13 April.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

“In the light of events in Ukraine, the channel transmitted propagation of violence and instigation of war”, Mantas Martisius, a member of the commission and a scholar at Vilnius University, told EUobserver.

The regulator said RTR Planeta is portraying Ukrainian people as enemies of Russia and showing contempt for Ukraine’s territorial integrity.

It referred to a show including Vladimir Zhirinovski, a Russian nationalist MP and Duma vice chairman, who, the commission says, called on Russia to “deal with Ukraine”.

The Lithuanian military’s strategic communications bureau, which consults the Radio and Television Commission, pushed for the ban and defended it on Lithuanian public radio.

“When we deal with open lies, the state has to react and to show people that it cares about core values”, the bureau’s Karolis Zikaras said.

He described Russian propaganda as “information nihilism”.

He also said Lithuania should promote Western media products because some Russian media benefit from state subsidies while most Western broadcasters have to compete on the open market.

RTR Planeta is a cable and satellite TV channel owned by Russian state firm VGTRK.

It's licensed in Sweden and broadcasts in the Baltic states but all its cotent is made in Russia and aired in Russian.

The blanket ban on all of RTR Planeta’s shows in Lithuania is a first in the EU, the Lithuanian media regulator noted.

It comes after initial warnings and mini-bans, last March, on some RTR Planeta content, as well as min-bans on shows by Ren TV, another Russian company.

The crackdown has stirred some debate.

There is criticism of the involvement of the Lithuanian military in media oversight.

There is also discussion on the merits of a new Law on Public Information.

The bill, proposed by president Dalia Grybauskaite, is to penalise broadcasters that spread war propaganda, try to instigate changes to the constitutional order in Lithuania, or which are deemed to harm Lithuanian sovereignty.

For his part, Vilnius University’s Martisius said there should be better EU-level regulation.

Referring to the EU’s audiovisual media market and TV without frontiers directive, he said hostile states are using EU freedoms to harm EU interests.

He said some Russian broadcasters, which are licencsed in, say, Sweden or the UK, violate both national and EU-level hate speech laws, but procedures are too cumbersome to take them off the air.

“The idea was to create an open and liberal media market, but we have to understand that regulations are being exploited,” Martisius noted.

Russia's information war in Lithuania

The Lithuanian State Security Department has issued a booklet with tips on how to recognise a spy as citizens amid a febrile atmosphere in the aftermath of Russia's aggression in Ukraine.

Nordic pact heightens tension with Russia

The Kremlin says a new Nordic defence pact is “directed against Russia” and amounts to a “confrontational approach” on the Ukraine crisis.

Opinion

Words speak louder than guns

Rather than creating its own counter-propaganda, the EU should reach out to civil society in Eastern Europe and Russia itself via social media.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  2. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  3. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  4. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  5. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  9. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  10. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  12. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan

Latest News

  1. Romania drafts EU code on NGO migrant rescues
  2. Bulgaria, Hungary, and Malta shamed on press unfreedom
  3. EU drafts $20bn US sanctions list in aviation dispute
  4. Brunei defends stoning to death of gay men in EU letter
  5. US Democrats side with Ireland on Brexit
  6. Wifi or 5G to connect EU cars? MEPs weigh in
  7. How Brexit may harm the new EU parliament
  8. EU parliament backs whistleblower law

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us