The Grand Chamber of the Court of Justice of the European Union has rejected in its entirety a request by RT France (formerly Russia Today) to cancel a broadcasting ban on the channel.
In a statement, it says that on March 31 the Council of the European Union adopted restrictive measures intended to prohibit, until July 31,2022, the broadcasting activities of certain media outlets, including RT France, within or to the European Union.
“According to the Council, the Russian Federation has engaged in a propaganda campaign justifying and supporting its aggression against Ukraine, targeting civil society in the European Union and neighbouring countries, by grievously distorting and manipulating the facts and, in order to do so, using certain media outlets under the direct or indirect control of the leadership of the Russian Federation as conduits for that propaganda campaign”.
It adds that RT France brought an action for annulment before the General Court against the acts of the Council. “In support of its action, RT France relies on four pleas in law, alleging infringement, respectively, of the rights of the defence, freedom of expression and information, the right to conduct a business, and the principle of non- discrimination on grounds of nationality. It also calls into question the Council’s competence to adopt the contested acts.
Key points in the ruling include:
The General Court dismisses as unfounded the complaint alleging a lack of competence on the part of the Council.
The EU authorities were therefore not required to hear RT France prior to the decision temporarily to prohibit it from any form of content broadcasting. Consequently, the Court states that there has been no infringement of RT France’s right to be heard.
As regards the complaint alleging that the statement of reasons for the contested acts is insufficient with regard to RT France, the General Court points out that that statement can be understood and is sufficiently precise,
The condition that the limitations on the freedom of expression must be laid down by law is satisfied.
The General Court adds that the nature and extent of the temporary prohibition at issue comply with the essential content of the freedom of expression and do not call that particular freedom into question.
Accordingly, the condition relating to the pursuit of an objective of general interest is satisfied.
RT France has indicated it will appeal the decision.
An appeal has to be made within two months and 10 days of notification of the decision.