Lithuanian media watchdog may suspend RTR Planeta broadcasts for up to 18 months
Broadcasts by the Russian-language TV channel RTR Planeta in Lithuania may be suspended for between a year and a year and a half over repeated violations, the chairman of the Lithuanian Radio and Television Commission (LRTK) said on Tuesday.
"We have evidence, we have the legal basis to make decisions on restrictions. We will have visitors from Russia, who will apparently provide explanations and comments, but in any case, the commission will decide tomorrow whether to impose restrictions or make other decisions," Edmundas Vaitekūnas said.
"We have informed the European Commission and RTR Planeta itself that a possible decision may be to restrict the retransmission for between 12 and 18 months," he added.
LRTK has in the past twice suspended broadcasts by the Sweden-registered channel RTR Planeta, in 2015 and 2016, for distributing content inciting to war and hatred. In both cases, three-month suspensions were imposed over statements made on the channel by Russian lawmaker Vladimir Zhirinovsky. However, the media watchdog recorded further violations after the sanctions.
Vaitekunas said that the channel's representatives were expected to attend the LRTK meting on Wednesday, but added that the time limits set by law for reaching an agreement with the commission had already expired.
According to the chairman, three instances of incitement to war and hatred in programs aired on RTR Planeta have been registered since the latest suspension expired a year ago.
Lithuanian rebroadcasters in 2015 were instructed to move RTR Planeta to their paid packages, but the measure was canceled following signals from the European Commission that it run counter to EU legislation.