Moscow says it will take “retaliatory measures” against German news media operating in Russia after Germany’s media watchdog decided to ban the German-language service of Russian broadcaster RT.
On Wednesday, Germany’s MABB media watchdog and Commission for Licensing and Supervision (ZAK) of media institutions banned RT DE from broadcasting in Germany, saying in a statement that the decision was taken due to lack of a license.
The German regulator claimed that the German-language service of RT, which requires a broadcasting license under German law, neither requested such a permission nor was granted one. Consequently, the statement added, the watchdog banned the transmission of RT DE on air, on the Internet, and through the mobile app.
Later in the day, the Russian Foreign Ministry hit back in a statement, saying Moscow would take punitive measures against German news media operation in the Russian Federation in retaliation.
“This move deprives us of any choice but to embark on retaliatory measures against German media accredited in Russia, as well as against internet intermediaries that have voluntarily and groundlessly deleted accounts of the TV channel from their platforms,” the ministry said.
“The verdict of the German media regulator is an unambiguous sign that Russian concerns were demonstrably ignored,” the statement further said.
The Russian Foreign Ministry stressed that the controversial decision was made despite the fact that the RT DE operated under a satellite broadcasting license issued by Serbia and in full compliance with the European Convention on Transfrontier Television, to which Germany is a signatory.
“It was repeatedly pointed out to Germany that it’s unacceptable to exert politically motivated pressure on the Russian media operator, and it was pointed out that retaliatory measures would be inevitable if Berlin refused to find a constructive solution to the problem it created with RT DE,” the statement further read.
Separately, RT said it will go to court over the MAAB’s decision.
Back on December 22, RT DE was blocked from Europe’s satellite network at the request of German authorities, claiming that the German-language service was not eligible to broadcast in Germany for licensing reasons. However, it was still available over the internet and via its mobile app.
The decision at the time came less than a week after RT DE went on air. In response to the ban, RT DE said later that month that its suspension had been “illegal” and the result of political pressure from Berlin.
The state-funded RT was launched in 2005 and has so far expanded with channels and websites in several languages, including English, French, Spanish and Arabic.