(CN) – Europe’s top court backed Lithuania on Friday for barring broadcasts of a Russian propaganda channel except as part of a pay-per-view subscription.
The channel NTV Mir Lithuania incurred access restrictions in May 2016, about a month after airing a program that the Lithuanian Radio and Television Commission found to have incited hatred on the basis of nationality.
As explained in Friday’s ruling, the commission said the program contained “false information … concerning the collaboration of Lithuanians and Latvians in connection with the Holocaust and the allegedly nationalistic and neo-Nazi internal policies of the Baltic countries.”
Most of NTV Mir Lithuania’s content is produced in Russia, and the commission said the program at issue used propaganda to make Lithuania’s Russian national minority feel threatened by “the internal and external policies of the Republic of Lithuania, the Republic of Estonia and the Republic of Latvia.”
In addition to polarizing the public, the program was meant “to emphasize the tension in the Eastern European region created by Western countries and the Russian Federation’s role of victim,” the ruling states.
Per the May decision, the commission told the broadcaster Baltic Media Alliance that it could no longer carry NTV Mir Lithuania except as part of paid subscription.
After the broadcaster sought to annul that decision, an administrative court in Vilnius put the case on hold to get input from Europe’s top court.
That body’s Second Chamber ruled Friday that the broadcast restrictions are legally sound as they serve the public interest. Though the ruling emphasizes that Lithuania cannot prevent the retransmission of the channel, it said viewers can still access NTV by paying for it.