February 28 2022, 11:38 am

EU To Ban Russia’s RT, Sputnik Media Outlets Over Ukraine Disinformation

Euro­pean media is report­ing that Euro­pean Com­mis­sion Pres­i­dent Ursu­la von der Leyen announced that Rus­sia-backed media out­lets RT and Sput­nik would be banned in the EU. Both out­lets have been repeat­ed­ly accused of spread­ing dis­in­for­ma­tion, espe­cial­ly in recent weeks dur­ing Russia’s mil­i­tary build-up on the Ukrain­ian bor­der. Accord­ing to a Politi­co report:

Feb­ru­ary 27, 2022 Euro­pean Com­mis­sion Pres­i­dent Ursu­la von der Leyen announced Sun­day that Krem­lin-backed RT, for­mer­ly known as Rus­sia Today, and Sput­nik, would be banned in the EU.  “We will ban the Kremlin’s media machine in the EU. The state-owned Rus­sia Today and Sput­nik, and their sub­sidiaries, will no longer be able to spread their lies to jus­ti­fy Putin’s war,” she said.  “We are devel­op­ing tools to ban their tox­ic and harm­ful dis­in­for­ma­tion in Europe,” von der Leyen added, with­out pro­vid­ing more details.  Krem­lin-backed media have been under increased pres­sure in Europe since Rus­sia launched its inva­sion of Ukraine. Poland and Esto­nia reg­u­la­tors have in recent days banned Russ­ian TV broad­cast­ers while West­ern coun­tries includ­ing the U.K. and France have renewed scruti­ny on RT. The pow­er to shut down broad­cast­ers is in the hands of nation­al reg­u­la­tors.  In recent weeks, a mas­sive infor­ma­tion war unfold­ed both online and offline between Krem­lin-backed news out­lets and online trolls and media and actors both in Ukraine and across the West. Accord­ing to French pub­lic radio France Inter, RT France’s cov­er­age of Ukraine was obvi­ous­ly one-sided and biased toward the Russ­ian government.

Read the rest here and van der Leyen’s full speech here.

In 2017, the NYT char­ac­ter­ized RT (for­mer­ly Rus­sia Today) as follows:

Ana­lysts are sharply divid­ed about the influ­ence of RT. Point­ing to its minus­cule rat­ings num­bers, many cau­tion against over­stat­ing its impact. Yet focus­ing on rat­ings may miss the point, says Peter Pomer­ant­sev, who wrote a book three years ago that described Russia’s use of tele­vi­sion for pro­pa­gan­da. “Rat­ings aren’t the main thing for them,” he said. “These are cam­paigns for finan­cial, polit­i­cal and media influ­ence.” RT and Sput­nik pro­pel those cam­paigns by help­ing cre­ate the fod­der for thou­sands of fake news prop­a­ga­tors and pro­vid­ing anoth­er out­let for hacked mate­r­i­al that can serve Russ­ian inter­ests, said Ben Nim­mo, who stud­ies RT for the Atlantic Coun­cil. What­ev­er its impact, RT is unques­tion­ably a case study in the com­plex­i­ty of mod­ern pro­pa­gan­da. It is both a slick mod­ern tele­vi­sion net­work, dressed up with great visu­als and styl­ish pre­sen­ters, and a con­tent farm that helps feed the Euro­pean far right. View­ers find it dif­fi­cult to dis­cern exact­ly what is jour­nal­ism and what is pro­pa­gan­da, what may be “fake news” and what is real but pre­sent­ed with a strong slant.

Sput­nik is a state-owned Russ­ian news agency estab­lished in 2014 and oper­at­ing in over 30 lan­guages. It has been fre­quent­ly accused of spread­ing dis­in­for­ma­tion and is mon­i­tored by the strate­gic com­mu­ni­ca­tion divi­sions of the EU and NATO.

The Glob­al Influ­ence Oper­a­tions Report has exten­sive­ly cov­ered the activ­i­ties of RT and Sput­nik as well as Russ­ian dis­in­for­ma­tion on Ukraine.


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