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Russia's German-language RT channel goes off air

December 22, 2021

A European satellite operator has stopped broadcasting the Russian state-run channel RT via satellite just days after its launch. German regulators said the channel did not have a license to operate.

RT Deutsch banner in Berlin
RT DE has an office in BerlinImage: Sascha Steinach/imago images

European satellite operator Eutelsat on Wednesday halted the broadcasting of the German-language channel of Russian state broadcaster RT, German regulators said.

The move came after German authorities complained that RT launched live broadcasts in Germany without a license, prompting Paris-based Eutelsat to remove it from the list of channels broadcast on its satellite.

"The broadcast is in German and targets the German market," the broadcast authority for the German capital, Berlin, where RT has offices, said in a statement. "It did not apply for a broadcasting permit and nor was one issued."

RT slams action as 'illegal'

"We consider the actions of the German regulator to be illegal and are convinced that this decision will be reviewed in court," an RT statement said.

The broadcaster says it has a Serbian license for cable and satellite transmission, insisting that it allows it to be broadcast in Germany under European law.

Speaking to RT, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov warned that Moscow could retaliate "if this unacceptable situation continues."  

A day earlier, Russian President Vladimir Putin called for an end to the "discrimination" against RT.

A Russian journalists union criticized Germany's media regulator, MABB, and said it committed "a direct act of censorship and a violation of the media's rights to the free flow of information."

The union added that the move was politically motivated and violated "not only the rights of journalists, but also RT viewers who are deprived of access to the source of information." 

West sees RT as Kremlin mouthpiece

The state-owned RT, formerly known as Russia Today, is regarded by most Western governments as a propaganda outlet.

Since it was first founded in 2005, the broadcaster has expanded to several languages, including English, Spanish and Arabic. 

RT's German-language channel launched Thursday. It had already been banned by YouTube, but it can still be watched live on its own website. 

RT regularly broadcasts news that is widely seen as sympathetic to Russian foreign policy and tends to dramatize news from countries that have tensions with the Kremlin. 

The headline of an opinion piece of RT's website on Wednesday read, "From coronavirus to civil war?" as it speculated about the possibility of vaccine mandates in Germany.

Wednesday's decision to cut off RT DE comes amid heightened tensions between the West and Moscow over Russian military activity on the Ukrainian border. 

fb/wd (AFP, Reuters, epd)

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