Monday

28th May 2018

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.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

“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.

Analysis

Orban, the 'anti-Merkel', emboldens European right

Hungary's premier Viktor Orban has inspired 'illiberalism' across central Europe and far-right politicians in the West. His expected re-election this Sunday will further reinforce his standing as a symbol for being tough on Europe's political mainstream.

News in Brief

  1. Italy set to pick eurosceptic finance minister
  2. UK foreign minister fooled by Russian pranksters
  3. Rajoy ally gets 33 years in jail for corruption
  4. Close race as polls open in Irish abortion referendum
  5. Gazprom accepts EU conditions on gas supplies
  6. Facebook tells MEPs: non-users are not profiled
  7. Commission proposes ending France deficit procedure
  8. UK households hit with Brexit income loss

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Counter BalanceEuropean Ombudsman requests more lending transparency from European Investment Bank
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersOECD Report: Gender Equality Boosts GDP Growth in Nordic Region
  3. Centre Maurits Coppieters“Peace and reconciliation is a process that takes decades” Dr. Anthony Soares on #Brexit and Northern Ireland
  4. Mission of China to the EUMEPs Positive on China’s New Measures of Opening Up
  5. Macedonian Human Rights MovementOld White Men are Destroying Macedonia by Romanticizing Greece
  6. Counter BalanceControversial EIB-Backed Project Under Fire at European Parliament
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersIncome Inequality Increasing in Nordic Countries
  8. European Jewish CongressEU Leaders to Cease Contact with Mahmoud Abbas Until He Apologizes for Antisemitic Comments
  9. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual Report celebrates organization’s tenth anniversary
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Cooperation Needed on Green Exports and Funding
  11. Mission of China to the EUPremier Li Confirms China Will Continue to Open Up
  12. European Jewish CongressCalls on Brussels University to Revoke Decision to Honour Ken Loach