Media watchdog warns Russian channel

The National Electronic Mass Media Council (NEPLP) has sent an informative letter to the European Commission, the producers of the Rossiya RTR TV channel and the Swedish broadcast regulator, warning that the broadcast of the channel will be stopped in the case of repeated violations, the council announced Thursday.

Upon monitoring the Rossiya RTR channel, which had previously been suspended for three months in Latvia, NEPLP found out that programs aired on January 18 and 19, as well as July 6 this year were found to be inciting hatred. 

In the January programs about events in Ukraine, the authors had broadcast biased content that contained a one-sided version of the facts; furthermore, the selection of the participants didn't accord to the standards of journalism and principles of ethics, NEPLP noted.

According to NEPLP, in a number of the episodes of the program opinions were voiced that Ukraine is a fascist state, and that criminals and fascists illegitimately rule Ukraine, and that Ukraine is a degenerate state that directs genocide against Russians and other inhabitants of the country.

It should, as an agressor, be destroyed as no talks are possible with it, and furthermore the Western states support the Ukrainian fascism, the program went on.

At the same time, the host of the program had opposed the opinion that Nazis and fascists are only leading the Ukrainian state and that Ukrainians aren't supporting them. Thus the host had tried portraying the whole citizen body of Ukraine as an enemy. 

While on July a news story was aired about an everyday conflict in Jūrmala. The story description by the producers it could be deduced that the aim of the story is to discover whether ethnic conflicts are rife in Latvia.

The story portrayed only one side of the conflict, the victim, and the only expert the story featured said that there's a long-standing ethnic conflict in Latvia and that the state encourages this conflict, and that America is imposing such policy on Latvia. At the same time, the story claimed that a Latvian doctor had refused helping a Russian-speaking patient as the latter didn't speak Latvian. These allegations weren't backed by facts and the producers had backed the party portrayed as the victim, the broadcast watchdog said. 

NEPLP concluded that in both cases signs of media law violations could be seen, that is, the programs incited hatred, but the ones broadcast in January called to starting war or military conflict.

As Rossiya RTR is rebroadcast in Latvia from Sweden, Latvia cannot limit the content or to punish the creator of the program for broadcasting material that's against Latvian law. However, NEPLP can prevent the channel from being broadcast in Latvia.

The European Union Audiovisual Media Services Directive allows a member state to suspend rebroadcasts from other states if the broadcast organization has violated the terms of the directive. The rebroadcast can be cut after the third violation. 

On April 7 last year, NEPLP had banned Rossiya RTR from airing in Latvia at the behest of the Security Police (DP), who found the channel’s justifications of military aggression against Ukraine’s sovereignty to have been “presented most tendentiously.”

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