Russia’s view of the world should also be increasingly observable in Germany. The Kremlin broadcaster RT wanted to start a television channel. The application is likely to be rejected.
Berlin – setback for Vladimir Putin. Russia’s state foreign broadcaster RT, formerly known as Russia Today, is apparently not getting a broadcast license in Germany. RT had planned to launch a TV channel this year. In addition, the messages of the Kremlin were to be beamed directly into the living rooms of the German population. Now, however, the plug seems to be pulled on the TV plans.
RT: Application for a broadcast license apparently rejected – no TV broadcaster in Germany
As the picture reports, the application for a broadcasting license in German-speaking countries is rejected. The application was submitted by RT DE Productions GmbH, based in Berlin, and not in Germany, but in Luxembourg. A final decision has not yet been made, but Luxembourg has announced that it will follow German jurisprudence. RT DE should have submitted the application to the Medienanstalt Berlin-Brandenburg. Then it would have been rejected pretty quickly.
The background to this is the constitutional principle in the Federal Republic of broadcasting remote from the state. Although this was initially designed with the German state in mind, it should not apply less to the Russian one. However, RT DE can by no means be described as remote from the state.
RT: Kremlin propaganda from Moscow to Germany
RT is part of the media company Rossija Sevodnja (Russia today), which also includes Sputnik. The broadcaster launched branches in Spanish or Arabic early on after it was founded in 2005. The offer differs from country to country and is individually tailored to the target group. For example, RT Arabic has more news about the Middle East, which is intended to build trust with the reader. The German broadcaster RT Deutsch has existed since 2014 and was renamed RT DE in 2020. According to their own statement, the offshoots of RTs are consumed by more than 664 million people in more than 100 countries. The range is great and so is the chance to focus on Russia’s interests.
RT is seen as the extended arm of the Kremlin and its most important instrument in the struggle for public opinion. In the texts, the Russian perspective on world political issues should be mentioned and the “aggressive propaganda” of the West should be counteracted. In this context, the Kremlin around President Putin rely on the strategy of nation branding. This is how one understands the goal of using strategic communication to bring a country closer to an external audience. The fact that RT was not available in Russian until 2014 shows how much an audience remote from Russia is to be addressed.
RT: “Facts that do not correspond to the Russian narrative are left out or manipulated”
To accomplish this mission, RT is financially supported by the Russian government. “RT is an autonomous, non-profit organization that is publicly funded from the budget of the Russian Federation,” says the broadcaster. This financial dependency creates enormous power for the Kremlin. Basically, Moscow dictates what RT has to write in Germany, critics complain. A study on Russian journalism in Germany states: “Facts that do not correspond to the Russian narrative are left out or manipulated.” This was observed, for example, in the poison attacks on the Russian double agent Sergeij Skripal or the Kremlin critic Alexej Navalny. The coverage was largely pro-Russian and received false claims. There are also indications that Russia could influence the general election.
The proximity to the Kremlin has become increasingly a political issue in recent years. The FDP parliamentary group demanded that the federal government reassess RT’s role in the German media landscape. Because of its disinformation campaigns, RT is being watched by the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution. “In addition to its espionage interests, Russia endeavors to influence political and public opinion in Germany in line with Russian politics,” says the 2020 report on the protection of the constitution.
RT saw the start of a TV channel as the perfect opportunity to further expand its Russia propagana. After the alleged cancellation, the Kremlin broadcaster will have to look for alternatives. A request from Merkur.de has remained unanswered to date. How Vladimir Putin will react to the news is unclear. (as)