The European Union’s Court of Justice has overruled a bid by the French branch of Russian-state-controlled international news network Russia Today (RT) to overturn a measure prohibiting it from broadcasting across the bloc.
The Council of the European Union banned the network on March 1, just days after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24, saying it was being used as “a conduit” for Russian propaganda aimed at drumming up support for the aggression.
“The Grand Chamber of the General Court dismisses RT France’s application for annulment of acts of the Council, adopted following the outbreak of the war in Ukraine, temporarily prohibiting that organisation from broadcasting content,” the court said in a statement on Wednesday.
The court noted that RT France’s appeal cited four key infringements against it, spanning rights of defence, freedom of expression and information, the right to conduct a business, and the principle of non-discrimination on grounds of nationality
RT’s application also questioned the Council of the European Union’s “competence” to adopt the ban.
The court said that because the Council has oversight on matters of common foreign and security policy across the bloc, the decision to ban RT was within its remit.
“The Council cannot be criticised for having considered that the necessary measures to be taken in response to the serious threat to peace at Europe’s borders and the infringement of international law could also include the temporary prohibition on content broadcasting by certain media outlets funded by the Russian State, on the ground that those outlets would support the Russian Federation’s military aggression against Ukraine,” said the Court of Justice in its ruling.
The fresh ruling provoked an angry response from the Kremlin in Moscow with spokesperson Dmitry Peskov telling reporters that Russia could adopt similar measures against Western media outlets operating in the country.
“We will also not let them work here,” he said, suggesting the ban flew in the face European Union “ideals” around freedom of expression.
RT – which broadcasts in English, French, German and Arabic – has long been accused by Western politicians of delivering international news coverage skewed in favor of Russia.
In a separate ruling last week in the UK, where the network had its license revoked on March 18, UK regulator Ofcom said RT had not adhered to impartiality rules in the UK Broadcasting Code, a requirement to secure and retain a license, in its ongoing coverage of the war.