Last week the European Commission (hereinafter – the EC) decided that a decision by the Radio and Television Commission of Lithuania (hereinafter – the RTCL) to suspend, for three months, the retransmission of a Russian language channel “RTR Planeta” containing incitement to hatred is compatible with the European Union law.
The EC assessed the measures taken by Lithuania on the basis of the Audiovisual Media Services Directive, which prohibits hate speech. According to the EC, Lithuania has demonstrated that there have been manifest, serious and grave infringements of the prohibition of incitement to hatred. Therefore the EC decided that the temporary suspension of retransmission of this programme is proportionate and justified.
21 November last year, the RTCL adopted a decision to temporarily suspend the retransmission of the television programme “RTR Planeta” in Lithuania.
The RTCL established that on 16 October 2016, the broadcast content of the show “Duel. The Programme of Vladimir Solovjov” of the television programme “RTR Planeta”, which falls under the jurisdiction of Sweden, but in reality is produced in the Russian Federation, disseminated instigation of war, discord and incitement to ethnic hatred. The RTCL applied sanctions in accordance with the European Union law established procedures and suspended the retransmission of the progamme in the territory of Lithuania for 3 months.
This decision expires tomorrow – on 21 February.
The EC also highlighted the importance to ensure a better protection against hate speech. Therefore its proposal for the revision of the Audiovisual Media Services Directive adopted on 25 May 2016 widens the definition of hate speech by referring to ‘incitement to violence or hatred’ and including ethnic origin, belief, disability, age or sexual orientation as grounds of such prohibited speech. The proposal also foresees a requirement for video-sharing platforms (e.g. YouTube) to take measures to protect citizens from incitement to violence or hatred.
For more information visit the European Commission’s website https://ec.europa.eu/digital-single-market/en/news/decision-suspend-broadcast-russian-language-channel-rtr-planeta-lithuania-complies-eu-rules