Information is a key component of hybrid warfare. To counter Russian war propaganda and disinformation campaign on the military aggression in Ukraine, the European Union and the UK have recently taken the decision of suspending the broadcasting activities of Russia’s international outlets.
On 2 March the EU announced an official ban of the Russian international media outlets RT (formerly known as Russia Today) and Sputnik.
A regulation and a decision by the Council provide legal grounds to take both outlets off the air and block their online content inside the EU, as a sanction to Russia for the invasion of Ukraine and as a defensive move against harmful disinformation in this critical moment.
Two weeks later, the UK media regulator Ofcom followed suit by revoking RT's license allowing it to broadcast in the country.
Such measures are not without controversy; not only do they raise concerns for the limiting of media freedom and freedom of expression, but they also have loopholes that could deem them ineffective.
On 28 March the Centre for Media Pluralism and Media Freedom (CMPF) organised an online workshop with experts on media freedom and regulators to discuss the legal basis, the opportunities, and the limits of the measures imposed by the EU and the UK.
During the workshop, both critical and supportive views of the measures adopted were expressed. Some speakers expressed their concerns about loopholes that limit the effectiveness of the measures and highlighted the danger of counterproductive consequences. In particular, the role of intermediaries and content moderation in digital platforms was highlighted as problematic. The legal framework in which the measures are implemented in the EU and in the UK was also thoroughly analysed.
The session was chaired by Pier Luigi Parcu, Director of the CMPF, who prompted a stimulating discussion between a diverse lineup of speakers, including Elda Brogi (Scientific Coordinator of the CMPF), Maria Donde (Head of International Content Policy at Ofcom, Vice-Chair of EPRA), Ricardo Gutiérrez (General Secretary of the European Federation of Journalists), Karim Ibourki (Chair of ERGA - European Group of Regulators for Audiovisual Media Services), and Eliška Pírková (Europe Policy Analyst and Global Freedom of Expression Lead at Access Now).
Watch the full recording available on our YouTube channel.