The Lithuanian authorities informed the Commission in March 2018 that the Russian language channel "RTR Planeta", broadcasting to Lithuania from Sweden, had been broadcasting content that could be deemed as incitement to hatred. The language used during some programmes on "RTR Planeta" referred to military confrontations and contained unambiguous threats of occupation or destruction of countries, including the Baltic states. The Lithuanian authorities therefore decided to suspend the retransmission of the channel for twelve months, from 23 February 2018 to 23 February 2019.
The Commission assessed the measures taken by the Lithuanian regulator on the basis of the Audiovisual Media Services Directive (AVMSD), which prohibits hate speech and incitement to hatred. Lithuania demonstrated that there have been manifest, serious and grave infringements of the prohibition of incitement to hatred. The Commission, after carefully analysing the case, on 4 May 2018 decided that Lithuania's temporary suspension of the broadcasts of "RTR Planeta" is proportionate and justified.
In April 2015, the Commission considered that a temporary three-month suspension of the retransmission of "RTR Planeta" on the basis of incitement to hatred decided by Lithuania was compatible with EU law. In 2017, the Commission reached the same conclusion regarding a further suspension. Now, in view of the circumstances and in particular the recurring nature of the infringements, the Commission considers a substantially longer suspension justified.
The decision highlights the importance of the fight against hate speech. The updates proposed by the Commission to the Audiovisual Media Services Directive include a wider definition of hate speech. They also recommend that video-sharing platforms take appropriate measures to protect citizens from incitement to violence or hatred.
The Commission decision
- EN - Commission Decision of 4.5.2018 on the compatibility of the measures adopted by Lithuania pursuant to Article 3 (2) of Directive 2010/13/EU
- FR - Décision de la Commission du 4.5.2018 relative à la compatibilité des mesures adoptées par la Lituanie en application de l’article 3, paragraphe 2, de la directive 2010/13/UE
- DE - Beschluss der Kommission vom 4.5.2018 über die Vereinbarkeit der von Litauen getroffenen Maßnahmen gemäß Artikel 3 Absatz 2 der Richtlinie 2010/13/EU
- LT - Komisijos Sprendimas 2018 05 04 dėl priemonių, kurias Lietuva priėmė pagal 2010 m. kovo 10 d. Europos Parlamento ir Tarybos direktyvos 2010/13/ES