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22 Dec, 2021 18:21

RT responds to German channel’s satellite broadcast ban

The move forcing a European satellite operator to take RT’s 24-hour German-language channel off air is a sign of unhealthy competition, RT CEO Alexey Nikolov has said, adding that it would defend its broadcasting rights in court.

“The reason it is happening is because nobody wants competition,” Nikolov said on Wednesday. For the channel to get such staunch resistance in Germany is “like getting a medal,” he added, arguing that the hostile reaction only proves that the media outlet’s operations have been “phenomenally successful.”

Earlier the same day, Germany’s media regulator MABB (Medienanstalt Berlin-Brandenburg) had forced European satellite service Eutelsat to remove the newly launched channel RT DE from its network. The Paris-based company said it acted in response to an indication from Berlin and the European Regulators Group for Audiovisual Media Services.

Nikolov believes that resistance to the expanding RT network may go beyond Germany. “Each new [RT] channel is getting more resistance,” he said.

Naturally, no one likes competition… We’re all trying to compete, trying to win our audience. The problem is that we want to do it perfectly legally.

What RT did in launching its German-language channel was “perfectly legal,” and in full accordance with “the existing laws and regulations,” Nikolov said, adding that the media outlet repeatedly consulted with a host of lawyers and experts, including some international advisors, and all of them confirmed that it had acted within its rights.

The RT CEO pointed to “a complete lack of dialogue” between RT and authorities in Berlin from the outset. The German officials have refused to listen to RT’s arguments as they preferred to stick to their “own distorted version of truth,” Nikolov said.

Now, RT plans to defend its rights in court, with Nikolov stressing that the next step is to “fight legally.”

MABB insists that RT DE must obtain a German license to broadcast in German territory, including on its de.rt.com website, and has given the channel until December 30 to explain why it is operating without such a license.

RT maintains that its German-language channel is broadcast from Moscow under a Serbian license, which is covered by the European Convention of Transfrontier Television (ECTT), ratified by 32 nations including Serbia and Germany. Parties to the convention “shall not restrict” retransmission of broadcast services complying with the convention in their territories, the agreement states.