Lithuanian media watchdog considers suspending broadcasts of two Russian TV channels

“Some programs of these channels were suspended for three months. If a ban is imposed on the whole channel due to repeated violations, I believe it should be longer. My personal opinion is that two years may be too long. I believe it should be up to one year,” he told BNS on Monday.

Later this week, the commission will consider full ban on broadcasts of the two Russian-language TV channels and restriction of some of the programs of Ren TV Baltic (Lietuva) for the first violation of the law. The commission suspects that some of the information broadcast by the channels instigated national hatred, furthermore, the channels violated principles of journalists ethics by providing biased information and attempting to bias viewers.

In Vaitekūnas’ words, laws do not envisage a specific licence suspension time-frame for repeated violations, indicating only that the sanctions should be temporary.

The commission will decide on the sanctions after ensuring that all four conditions are met: establishing that the violation was repeated, receiving conclusion from the Service of Inspector of Journalists Ethics, negotiating with the broadcasters and notifying the European Commission (EC) about the violation.

The head of the radio and TV commission said the talks with broadcasters will probably take place by mail.

“Our demand will be to admit that the information was biased, instigating hatred, etc., as established in the conclusions – a disclaimer will have to be aired. If the negotiations do not take place, we will just make our decision, and that’s it,” said Vaitekūnas.

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