The European Union (EU) announced on Wednesday that it will prohibit Russian state-controlled news outlets RT and Sputnik for systematic disinformation about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, making them the first media organizations to be targeted by such a decision.
The sanction means EU operators will be prohibited from broadcasting, facilitating, or otherwise contributing to the dissemination of any RT and Sputnik content going forward effective immediately. The two firms’ broadcasting agreements or authorizations, as well as their transmission and distribution arrangements, will all be put on hold. RT’s English branches and operations in Britain, Germany, France, and Spain have also been restricted.
Sputnik came out sarcastically in response, saying: “We suggest the European Commission not stop halfway and ban the internet altogether.”
In the EU, Facebook (Meta), Google (Alphabet) YouTube and TikTok have already removed access to RT and Sputnik, while Twitter has also agreed to abide with the EU ban.
The ban on Russian-backed media is of particular interest, as there has been substantial misinformation and fabricated stories being discovered throughout all the same platforms which have now banned RT & Sputnik.
Additionally, the EU ban on RT and Sputnik comes just over a year following the signing of decrees by Ukraine’s pro-Western president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, which revoked licenses and restricted Pro-Russian news stations from being on air in Ukraine for 5 years.
With the security council resolution, Ukrainian government had effectively shut down three pro-Russian television stations in the capital, Kyiv, imposing penalties for five years on eight media and TV companies. The stations that were affected by this in Kyiv were ZIK, NewsOne, and 112 Ukraine which were considered to be pro-Russian messengers based in the nation’s war-ravaged east and south.
The European and International Federations of Journalists (EFJ and IFJ) voiced their opposition to the ban, calling it “extrajudicial and politically motivated and a blatant attack on press freedom that must be lifted urgently”.
Because the isolation of Russia and its global connections is still evolving, additional bans and limitations are expected as the Ukrainian conflict approaches its one-week mark.