RFE/RL –German regulators have launched proceedings against Russian state-controlled media RT for broadcasting in the country without a valid license.
RT DE, the German-language channel of broadcaster RT, suddenly began satellite broadcasts in Germany on December 16 using a questionable Serbian license, the MABB media regulator for Berlin and the surrounding state of Brandenburg said on December 17.
Germany does not grant broadcasting licenses to foreign-owned state media, although RT DE is allowed to have a bureau in Berlin.
RT — formerly Russia Today, which has been repeatedly criticized in the West as a source of Kremlin propaganda — has been trying to expand its German-language television channel for some time, but lacks a license to broadcast in the country using terrestrial or satellite signals.
RT DE still has articles and an online streaming service on its website that are accessible in Germany.
In August, neighboring Luxembourg refused to grant a license for RT DE to broadcast in Germany because its operations are based in Berlin.
However, RT DE’s parent organization, TV Novosti, received a license in Serbia after its failed attempt in Luxembourg. This only became known on December 16, when RT DE began broadcasting in Germany.
“For this program, a broadcast license was neither applied for nor granted by MABB,” the regulator said in a statement to RFE/RL. It added that a formal procedure had been launched and RT DE now had until the end of the year to respond.
Such proceedings could potentially lead to the channel being banned or receiving a fine of up to 500,000 euros ($563,700).
RT DE responded on its website with an article titled . In the article, RT DE argues that it has been granted a license for cable and satellite transmissions in Serbia, which under the European Convention on Transfrontier Television convention allows it to broadcast in Germany.