At the meeting on 25 April 2018 the Radio and Television Commission of Lithuania (hereinafter referred to as the RTCL) imposed a fine of 150 000 euros on the UAB “Init”, providing Cable TV and IPTV services in the Republic of Lithuania for the infringements of the Law on the Provision of Information to the Public (hereinafter referred to as the Law on PIP) and noncompliance with the RTCL’s decision of 14 February 2018 (in force since 23 February) on the suspension of the free reception of the television channel “RTR Planeta”. The fine is to be paid to the State Budget in three-months’ period from the date of its imposing.
Having determined the repeated cases of instigation of war and incitement to national hatred in the programmes of the television channel “RTR Planeta”, the RTCL adopted a decision obliging the re-broadcasters operating in the territory of the Republic of Lithuania as well as other persons providing services of the distribution of television programmes to their subscribers on Internet, to suspend the retransmission of the television channel “RTR Planeta” (other versions of this TV channel – “Rossija RTR”, “Россия РТР”) on the territory of the Republic of Lithuania for12 months from the date of entry into force of this Decision, i.e. until 23 February 2019.
During the planned inspection of the activity of the UAB “Init”, carried out by the RTCL, it was established that on 1 March 2018 this entity was still re-broadcasting this channel to its subscribers.
In the aspect of the Law on PIP, the seriousness, duration and consequences of non-compliance with this decision should be assessed in terms of the impact of such an infringement on human rights and freedoms, the interests of society and the state. The legislator has classified information that instigates war and incites to national hatred as the category of not-to-be published information (Article 19 (1) (3) of the Law on PIP); The Constitutional Court of the Republic of Lithuania has held that the constitutional concept of freedom of information does not include constitutional values, which substantially denies the alleged freedom to commit criminal acts – to spread defamation or otherwise disinform the society or its individual members, provide thoughts or attitudes that incite to ethnic, racial, religious or social hatred, violence and discrimination. Constitutional freedom of information does not include the propaganda of war, which the Constitution prohibits. The Constitutional Court has noted that due to the uncontrolled dissemination of such information, various values enshrined in the Constitution, including human rights and freedoms, will not be protected or ensured.
Therefore, the distribution of this television channel during the period of validity of the RTCL decision, especially in view of the content of the prohibited information broadcast in the television channel “RTR Planeta” should be regarded as dangerous to human rights and freedoms, the interests of society and the state.
The Law on PIP stipulates that the RTCL shall supervise the compliance of the re-broadcasters of the television programmes with its decisions. For non-compliance with the RTCL decisions referred to in Article 341 of the Law on PIP, the RTCL may impose a fine of up to 3 per cent of the total annual revenues of the re-broadcaster in the preceding business year and, in cases where it is difficult or impossible to calculate gross revenues, up to one hundred thousand euros.