Russian TV channels to be banned for years in Latvia

Latvia's broadcast regulator has announced that several Russian television channels will have their right to be broadcast in Latvia suspended for years with immediate effect.

The chairman of the National Electronic Mass Media Council (NEPLP) Ivars Āboliņš announced live on Latvian Television that there will be ban on the broadcasts of Rossija RTR for five years, Rossija 24 for four years and TV Centr International for three years in Latvia.

Usually such bans come into effect after the decision has been published in the official legal bulletin, but bearing in mind the emergency situation the NEPLP has invoked the right to an immediate shutdown on the grounds that the channels pose a threat to national security. Such bans usually apply for a maximum of a year, but again the NEPLP pointed out the extraordinary nature of the situation, saying:

"This decision was taken for the first time in the history of the European Union, using a provision in the Audiovisual Media Services Directive that allows derogations from the approximately one-year restriction procedure in emergency situations." 

Pressure to pull the channels from the airwaves had been building for some time as they continued to pump out blatantly biased Russian government propaganda regarding the situation in Ukraine.

"The violations are serious, and over the last two years, by restricting the operation of 41 Russian-related channels in Latvia with various decisions, Latvia has given a clear signal that we have protected, do protect and will protect our information space. NEPLP calls on all EU member states to use our evidence and to follow the example of Latvia by stopping the retransmission of these programs,” said Āboliņš.

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