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Russian, German leaders comment on RT DE feud

Russian President Vladimir Putin and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said on Tuesday they have agreed to think of a solution to the broadcasting dispute, after Berlin banned RT DE and Moscow responded by banning Deutsche Welle (DW).

Putin and Scholz made their comments at a joint press conference in Moscow after discussing the subject during their Tuesday talks.

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“We agreed that we will think about how these problems can be resolved,” Putin said.

Scholz insisted that Germany is a state of laws and that RT DE never applied for a broadcasting license there, saying it was banned by the appropriate regulator using the applicable laws.

“In a state of law, there are procedures, and the requirements created by laws,” he said.

RT DE Productions GmbH has repeatedly told German authorities it was a production company based in Berlin and not a broadcaster. All the broadcasting was done from Moscow, via a satellite frequency licensed from Serbia, and operating under the European Convention on Transfrontier Television (ECTT), which both Serbia and Germany have signed.  

Germany has not only refused to recognize the Serbian satellite license, but the Media Authority of Berlin-Brandenburg (MABB) declared that RT DE Productions was in fact a broadcaster and had to be shut down. The Commission on Licensing and Supervision (ZAK), the central organ of Germany’s Medienanstalten agency, agreed with MABB on February 2. RT is now appealing the decision.

It was unclear whether Scholz was aware that MABB had repeatedly told RT DE it was “not subject to approval” for broadcasting in Germany. The formal reason for that is that RT DE is a subsidiary of ANO TV-Novosti, which is financed from the state budget of the Russian Federation and therefore ineligible under existing German law.

This is why RT DE sought to obtain an ECTT license in Luxembourg in 2021, which was denied. German media reported that pressure from Berlin was a factor in the decision, though then-Chancellor Angela Merkel denied any such thing.

Following the ZAK decision to ban RT DE, Russia responded on February 3 by blocking Germany’s state broadcaster Deutsche Welle (DW) from broadcasting in Russia and stripping its Moscow staff of all press credentials. Moscow said further actions might be taken as well.

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