Canada removes two major Russian state-backed TV networks from programming list

Mar 16 2022, 9:33 pm

Canada has pulled the plug on distributing two prominent state-controlled Russian TV networks from its list of authorized programming services.

The channels in question are RT (formerly called Russia Today or Rossiya Segodnya) and its French counterpart, RT France.

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) announced on Wednesday that they’re formally removing the channels because they’re “not consistent with Canadian broadcasting standards.”

“Freedom of speech and a range of perspectives are a necessary part of our democracy. However, it is a privilege and not a right to be broadcast in Canada,” said Ian Scott, Chairperson and Chief Executive Officer, CRTC.

CRTC holds the right to remove foreign channels from their authorized list if they’re not up to par with Canadian standards, don’t meet the policy objectives set out in the Canadian Broadcasting Act, or don’t serve the public interest.

Such was the case with RT and RT France, which earned authorization in Canada in 2009 and 2020, respectively.

“The CRTC is also concerned with programming from a foreign country that seeks to undermine the sovereignty of another country, demean Canadians of a particular ethnic background and undermine democratic institutions within Canada,” the Commission said in their statement. They were referring to the biased media coverage of Russia’s war on Ukraine spread by the networks, and defending the Ukrainian community in the country.

The decision comes a day after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s virtual address to the Canadian parliament, which earned him a standing ovation. In his speech, Zelenskyy asked Canada to do more to suppress Russian aggression.

While the virtual address was underway, the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) issued a press release, sharing a list of Canadian individuals banned from entering Russia.

The list included Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and 312 other citizens of Canada who are in political leadership positions. In the statement, the MFA said Ottawa was competing with Washington in its “Russophobic rage.”

“This step [is] in response to the outrageous hostility of the current Canadian regime, which has tested our patience for so long,” the Russian MFA wrote.

While the distribution of foreign television services is allowed in Canada, the CRTC noted that it isn’t licensed like Canadian services are. Before the review was launched officially, the Commission also received complaints about Russian state-controlled media from Canadian civilians. It extended beyond RT and RT France, but those were the two networks chosen to get the chop.

The Governor in Council also sent in a request to the CRTC on March 2 to consider removing RT and RT France from their authorized services list.

Of 373 interventions the CRTC received, 350 were in favour of removing RT and RT France from distribution. Only 16 wanted to keep the networks going.

Canada is not the only country to have removed permission to distribute RT and RT France, the CRTC noted.

Earlier this month, RT and state-controlled news agency Sputnik were banned by EU member countries. The service was also pulled from Australian airwaves.

As of now, the RT News app is also unavailable on Apple Store Canada.

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Imaan SheikhImaan Sheikh

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