CRTC’s Decision to Deauthorize the Distribution of RT

Hi everyone,

After our talk about RT and censorship in class today, I thought I’d share the CRTC’s decision regarding deauthorizing the distribution of RT in Canada. It’s worth checking out to see the CRTC’s reasoning behind its decision as well as seeing how the decision making/consultation process works.

You can read the decision here:

This decision was reached in the context of concerns raised by the Government of Canada and the Canadian public with respect to whether RT’s programming was “consistent with the policy objectives of the Act and with the Commission’s broadcasting regulations.”

The CRTC concluded that the distribution of RT was not in the public interest on the grounds that RT’s content constituted “abusive comment” against the Ukrainian people. The CRTC’s decision followed a week long consultation period. Of note, RT is distributed by Canadian broadcasting distribution undertakings (BDUs), rather than directly licensed in Canada. While BDUs were among the parties invited for consultation, it does not seem that RT itself was involved in the proceedings.

There are a lot of interesting threads in the CRTC’s decision. What I found particularly interesting is how the CRTC’s analysis addressed freedom of expression. While the majority of parties supported the removal of RT, a small group of interveners opposed its removal largely on the grounds of freedom of expression. For example, one intervener noted that access to RT provided a line to official speeches and policy from the Russian government, which are increasingly difficult to access. Additionally, an intervener made the point that RT coverage outside of reporting on the Kremlin often addresses news and stories not covered by mainstream western media.

As mentioned in class today, it’s a strange moment in time to see censorship happen before our eyes, even if we haven’t consumed RT content before.

– Will Kunimoto

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