Social media giants, telecommunication companies, and European governments joined forces to halt the spread of disinformation from the Kremlin’s state-run media, amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
In Latin America, Uruguay’s state-owned telecommunications company, Antel, suspended Russian television network RT (formerly known as Russia Today) from Vera TV, its main media outlet, in early March 2022.
“We have just instructed the immediate suspension of the Russian network RT on Vera TV,” Antel President Gabriel Gurméndez said via Twitter on March 1. Gurméndez said the decision came from considering RT a “channel at the service of propaganda and justification of Russia’s violent military invasion of Ukraine, an action condemned by our country.”
In Costa Rica, the National Radio and Television System (Sinart) and the cable company Movistar announced March 3 the suspension of RT in their channel lineups, the Ecuadorian newspaper La Nación reported.
“Costa Rica’s public media system is the custodian of our bicentennial democracy’s most precious values: peace, disarmament, the defense of all human rights for all people […],” Boris Ramírez, Sinart executive president, said in a statement.
While Antel suspended RT in Uruguay, European Union (EU) members also blocked RT and Sputnik.
“Systematic information manipulation and disinformation by the Kremlin is applied as an operational tool in its assault on Ukraine,” EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said in a statement. “It is also a significant and direct threat to the Union’s public order and security,” Borrell added.
With this sanction, EU operators cannot broadcast, facilitate, or otherwise contribute to disseminating any RT or Sputnik content. Before the European community’s decision, Google had blocked RT and Sputnik on YouTube in Europe, the Uruguayan newspaper El País reported. “The company explained on its Twitter account that its teams of experts will ‘closely monitor’ the situation to take ‘quick measures,” El País added.
Soon after, Britain followed suit opting to ban RT, saying it was incapable of providing impartial coverage of the war in Ukraine, CNN reported.
“Freedom of expression is something we guard fiercely in this country, and the bar for action on broadcasters is rightly set very high,” Melanie Dawes, CEO of U.K. media regulator Ofcom, said in a statement on March 18. “Following an independent regulatory process, we have today found that RT is not fit and proper to hold a license in the U.K. As a result, we have revoked RT’s U.K. broadcasting license.”