As of Thursday (16.12), Russian state television RT started broadcasting a program in German based on a license recently issued by Serbia’s Regulatory Body for Electronic Media (REM).
That was the result of Moscow’s longtime attempts to enter the German market with its state media. On December 3, REM issued a broadcasting license to the Russian state media RT in German. The decision followed an order from the president of the REM Council, Olivera Zekic, and the television formerly known as Russia Today received the permission on December 6. The decision does not exist in the report from the session. REM Council member Judita Popovic told Serbia’s ‘Cenzolovka’ website that the item was subsequently included in the plan. She was against granting the license, but eight other colleagues were in favor.
REM Council President Olivera Zekic told the FoNet news agency that the permit for the Russian TV channel was issued in the same way as for N1 and Nova S in line with the law on electronic media and law on the ratification of the European Convention on cross-border TV with no desire to interfere in politics or editorial concepts. According to Popovic, the license violated the law since the documents showed that it was a Russian media based in Russia. The Law on Electronic Media, however, offers numerous options for a media outlet to be under „the jurisdiction of the Republic of Serbia”, but REM did not answer ‘Vreme’ question on what basis the RT DE channel (in German) might be under Serbia’s jurisdiction.
According to ‘Vreme’ sources familiar with REM’s work, with a favorable gas price granted during President Aleksandar Vucic’s recent visit to Sochi, he passed on Vladimir Putin’s „request” for RT DE to get a license in Serbia. RT DE refers to the license from Serbia and the European Convention on Transfrontier Television, according to which Serbia’s permit for a television program should be valid in other European countries, just as the license issued in Germany should be valid in Serbia. Russia, however, has not ratified the convention.
„Serbia has established itself as a convenient partner for circumventing German regulations”, ‘Cenzolovka’ wrote. RT DE, which has had a website in the German language since 2014, did not even ask the German regulators for permission because, as estimated, they would not have received it. This year, they tried via Luxembourg, but they were told to try in Germany, where they had headquarters and an editorial office in Berlin. The Berlin-Brandenburg Media Institute, which should be in charge as the regulator, said that, according to a preliminary assessment, Serbia’s broadcasting license referred to by RT DE „does not represent a sufficient basis for broadcasting in Germany”. RT DE is based in Berlin, so the decision on the license should be made there, it adds.
The leading German tabloid ‘Bild’ reported that the authorities could ask for a court ban on broadcasting RT DE since, as it added, the channel started broadcasting „expected propaganda” on Thursday. The Google-owned YouTube platform deleted the new Russian television channel only a few hours after the live broadcast started there. A YouTube spokesman said RT had been banned from managing channels on the most popular video platform in the world in Germany since September. At the time, one of the RT DE channels was temporarily blocked for „violating the guidelines”, i.e., „spreading lies about the pandemic”. When RT DE continued to post content on another channel, they were permanently removed from the platform, ‘Vreme’ recalled.