Eric Munch (Observer)
25 February, 2022
Situation in Ukraine prompts reactions from NRAs across Europe
In reaction to the events unfolding in Ukraine, the Ukrainian regulator, the National Council of Television and Radio Broadcasting
decided on 25 February to suspend retransmission of more than seventy Russian TV channels
in connection with recurring use of violent rhetoric referring to the Ukrainian authorities, law enforcement bodies, armed forces and the Ukrainian people in general; perceived as a threat to national security in the context of the current crisis. In an email to the EPRA Board and Secretariat, and later in an interview broadcast live on YouTube, Olha Herasymiuk, NCTRB Chair, urged everyone to make sure their sources of information regarding the conflict were trustworthy
There have already been various reactions from media NRAs, with some going as far as suspending the retransmission of Russian-origin services, citing in each case the risk they represent to national security. The majority of media regulatory authorities are closely monitoring the situation to assess an appropriate course of action.
On 23 February, UK regulator Ofcom was urged by the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, to take action against RT over its coverage of the Ukraine crisis. In its response, Ofcom ensured the Secretary of State of their careful monitoring of their licensees respect of the Broadcasting Code, regarding accuracy and impartiality in news.
On 28 February, Ofcom opened 15 new investigations into the due impartiality of news programmes on the RT news channel. The investigations, which relate to 15 editions of the hourly "News" programme broadcast on RT on 27 February 2022 between 05:00 and 19:00 inclusive, will be expedited, given the severity and urgency of the current crisis.
On 26 February, the Council for Broadcasting and Retransmission of the Slovak Republic (CBR) reported on its website that it supports the Slovak operators who have taken the decision to stop broadcasting Russian television programmes. While legal processes to suspend retransmission are lengthy and therefore inappropriate in the current situation, they offer to assist indecisive broadcasters with legal interpretations and detailed information about actions taken by NRAs in other Member States.
Several regulators have followed NCTRB's approach in suspending retransmission of several services originating in Russia or Russian state-controlled services in their respective countries mostly on the basis of Article 3(3) of the Audiovisual Media Services Directive:
On 24 February, the National Electronic Mass Media Council (NEPLP), the Latvian regulator, has restricted the retransmission of Rossiya RTR, Rossiya 24 and TVCI; citing a threat to state security.
The Radio and Television Commission of Lithuania (RTCL) announced on 25 February the suspension of retransmission of six Russian-origin TV programmes (Primais Baltijas Kanals Lietuva, TVCi, Planeta RTR, Rossiya 24, NTV Mir and Belarus 24), on the basis of them being a threat to national security. RTCL also has requested from YouTube the removal of the channels associated with the aforementioned programmes. On 28 February, RTCL added on their website a recommendation for telecommunications operators to provide retransmission services of several Ukrainian TV channels (1+1, 2+2, Channel Ukraine, ICTV, STB, Inter, New Channel, TET, K1 and NTN) to provide its Russian-speakers with more diversity in content.
On 25 February, the Consumer Protection and Technical Regulatory Authority (CTRA), the Estonian regulator, has issued an injunction to communications companies to stop broadcasting five TV channels on its territory: RTR Planeta, NTV Mir, Belarus 24, Rossiya 24 and TVCI.
On 25 February, the Polish National Broadcasting Council (KRRiT) has adopted a resolution on the deletion of five Russian programmes from the register of TV programmes distributed in the ICT system and through satellite and internet platforms: Russia Today (RT), RT Documentary, RTR Planeta, Soyuz TV, Rossiya 24. Removal from the register means the inability to distribute the above-mentioned programmes in cable networks, satellite platforms and internet platforms.
The EPRA Secretariat will continue to monitor the situation and gather relevant information to share with EPRA members.
Source: EPRA Secretariat
Image credit: Serhii Ivashchuk