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26 Feb, 2022 12:27

Australia suspends RT broadcast

Australia’s satellite operator said the move has been made out of “concern about the situation in Ukraine”
Australia suspends RT broadcast

Australia’s satellite operator, Foxtel, has notified RT on Saturday that it is suspending the channel's broadcast distribution in Australia as part of its services “in view of concern about the situation in Ukraine.” The operator will then further “consider” its rights under the channel license agreement, it added, without elaborating on any potential additional measures.

Foxtel is a satellite operator covering all of Australia’s territory and has its own over-the-top (OTT) server allowing media services to be offered to the audience directly via the internet. It has around 3.8 million clients.

On Thursday, Poland removed RT, along with some other Russian broadcasters, from its cable and satellite networks as well as internet platforms.

Every time a government or a certain organization calls for RT to be taken off air or bans its broadcast it only demonstrates “the fallacy of media freedoms” in the nation it represents, RT’s deputy editor-in-chief, Anna Belkina, said in a statement on Saturday, responding to the latest decisions by Australia and Poland.

“RT journalists tirelessly work to bring valuable facts and views to an audience of millions around the world,” she said, adding that “if ever there were a time to recognize the importance of all fact-gathering news … it is now.”

Even before the start of the Russian military operation, London had asked the regulator Ofcom to reconsider RT’s license to operate in the UK, accusing the company of being part of a “global disinformation campaign.” At that time, Belkina said that Ofcom had for a long time endorsed the channel as a license holder.

RT has been facing pressure for quite some time. European satellite TV operator Eutelsat took RT’s German-language channel RT DE off the air shortly after it was launched in December last year under pressure from the German regional media regulator MABB.

In early February, Germany’s top media regulator also sided with MABB and upheld a ban on RT DE's broadcast in the country, citing an absence of a locally-issued license. The channel previously obtained a valid pan-European permit in Serbia but the German regulators declared it void. RT DE now plans to appeal the decision in court.

In response to “unfriendly actions” against RT DE, Moscow announced it would halt operations of German state-owned broadcaster Deutsche Welle in Russia. 

Russia’s Foreign Ministry has previously warned that bans on RT broadcasting in foreign nations would be met with reciprocal measures in Russia. The ministry’s spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova, specifically said on February 23 that “if the UK follows on its threats against the Russian media, a response will not be long in coming.”

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