Canada’s telecommunications regulator announced Wednesday that it has banned Russia’s English-language network RT from being broadcast from the air.
The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) said it was removing RT and RT France from its list of approved broadcasters, effectively making it illegal for broadcasters in Canada to carry the channel.
The regulator’s move to ban RT from Canadian airwaves follows an review earlier in March, which suggested that the government was inclined to censor the channel.
"The Commission is of the preliminary view that RT's programming may not be consistent with the Commissions' broadcasting regulations, in particular, the abuse comment provisions such as those set out in Section 5 of the Television Broadcasting Regulations, 1987," the CRTC said on March 3.
The Russian state-owned broadcaster, which has been on the air since 2005, appears in more than 100 countries. That number has steadily dwindled as the channel has been stripped of its right to broadcast by both privately-owned broadcasting networks and government regulators amid the crackdown on Russian media over the war in Ukraine.
The move to ban RT was first prompted by Jason Woycheshyn, president of the Ukrainian Canadian Bar Association, among others, who submitted a complaint to the CRTC. Woycheshyn suggested that there is “no need or interest” for Russian broadcasters to air in Canada. He deemed it RT’s programming “Russian propaganda,” CBC reported.
“That's the basis upon which we are requesting that the CRTC ban all access, whether it be on the airwaves, television, radio or internet, to Russia Today or any other state-sponsored propaganda media Russia is currently promoting,” he told the publication.
“RT's programming is not consistent with the standards against which Canadian services are measured nor the policy objectives set out in the Broadcasting Act,” the CRTC stated Wednesday.
“The CRTC is also concerned with programming from a foreign country that seeks to undermine the sovereignty of another country, demean Canadians of a particular ethnic background and undermine democratic institutions within Canada,” the regulator added.
“Freedom of speech and a range of perspectives are a necessary part of our democracy. However, it is a privilege and not a right to be broadcast in Canada,” said CRTC CEO Ian Scott in a statement to CBC.
The Trudeau Liberals’ decision to ban RT has been criticized by Rebel News' Ezra Levant, who warned that the censorship of Canadian TV channels won’t stop with the Russian broadcast.