24th Mar 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.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

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.


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.

German ministries were at war over CO2 car cuts

Foreign minister Sigmar Gabriel was not the only German government official trying to water down an EU draft bill on CO2 emissions from passenger vehicles last year. In fact, three Berlin ministries were contradicting each other behind the scenes.

News in Brief

  1. EU wants 'Paris' climate strategy within 13 months
  2. Workload of EU court remains high
  3. Spain's supreme court charges Catalan separatist leaders
  4. EU calls for 'permanent' exemption from US tariffs
  5. Summit backs guidelines for future EU-UK talks
  6. Macron support drops as public sector workers go on strike
  7. EU leaders condemn Turkey for illegal actions in Aegean Sea
  8. Parliament must publish 'trilogue' documents, court says

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EUobserverStart a Career in EU Media. Apply Now to Become Our Next Sales Associate
  2. EUobserverHiring - Finance Officer With Accounting Degree or Experience - Apply Now!
  3. ECR GroupAn Opportunity to Help Shape a Better Future for Europe
  4. Counter BalanceControversial Turkish Azerbaijani Gas Pipeline Gets Major EU Loan
  5. World VisionSyria’s Children ‘At Risk of Never Fully Recovering', New Study Finds
  6. Macedonian Human Rights MovementMeets with US Congress Member to Denounce Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  7. Martens CentreEuropean Defence Union: Time to Aim High?
  8. UNESDAWatch UNESDA’s President Toast Its 60th Anniversary Year
  9. AJC Transatlantic InstituteAJC Condemns MEP Ana Gomes’s Anti-Semitic Remark, Calls for Disciplinary Action
  10. EPSUEU Commissioners Deny 9.8 Million Workers Legal Minimum Standards on Information Rights
  11. ACCAAppropriate Risk Management is Crucial for Effective Strategic Leadership
  12. EPSUWill the Circular Economy be an Economy With no Workers?

Latest News

  1. Nordic states discuss targeted Russia sanctions
  2. Commission sticks to its line on Barroso case
  3. Germany and France promise new Russia sanctions
  4. EU rejects US trade 'gun to the head'
  5. Tariffs and Turkey will top This WEEK
  6. EU leaders roll over Brexit talks amid Trump and Russia fears
  7. Europe needs corporate tax reform - a digital tax isn't it
  8. EU data chiefs rally behind UK over Cambridge Analytica