RT in Germany a ‘nuisance’ to be ‘taken care of’ – EU regulator
The chair of the EU’s media regulatory commission has disputed the newly launched RT DE service's right to broadcast in Germany and described the Russian channel as a “nuisance” that “will be taken care of” by the authorities.
Tobias Schmid, a former RTL executive, currently leads the European Regulators Group for Audiovisual Media Services (ERGA). In an interview with Norddeutscher Rundfunk (NDR) radio on Friday, he insisted that because RT DE has its newsroom in Berlin, it is subject to German jurisdiction and licensing laws. “This is above all a lot of noise and a real nuisance and we’ll take care of it,” he said.
RT DE began broadcasting on December 16, using a license obtained in Serbia – which is not an EU member, but has multiple treaties with the EU – under the European Convention on Transfrontier Television (ECTT). While the channel has a Berlin newsroom, its headquarters are in Moscow.
Schmid said he had discussed options with the media regulatory agency of Berlin-Brandenburg, known as MABB. Hours after his interview, RT DE Productions received a note that MABB is launching a court case. Schmid also asked satellite operator Eutelsat to cancel RT DE’s broadcasting.
Both NDR and Schmid pointed to YouTube’s ban of RT DE to challenge the channel’s legitimacy. The Google-owned platform deleted the RT auf Sendung (RT On Air) channel on Thursday, calling it an attempt to circumvent the earlier ban. At the end of September, YouTube banned the original RT DE channel with over 600,000 subscribers, as well as a secondary channel called DFP [Der Fehlende Part, “the missing piece”], citing “community guidelines violations.”
RT’s editor-in-chief Margarita Simonyan called the move a “declaration of media war against Russia by Germany.”
RT has faced numerous obstacles in attempting to launch a live TV channel focused on the German market. Its application for a German-language broadcast license in Luxembourg was denied in mid-August. Multiple outlets reported that the government in Berlin had influenced the decision, although Chancellor Angela Merkel officially denied doing so. Earlier this year, Frankfurt's Commerzbank also shut down RT DE’s accounts, without explanation. Several other German banks likewise refused to do business with the broadcaster.