Merkel says Berlin has not pressed Luxembourg into rejecting broadcasting license for RT German channel
Chancellor Angela Merkel has rejected claims of any government involvement in the recent rejection of a broadcast license to RT's German-language channel, despite multiple reports from German media saying otherwise.
As she spoke at a news conference after talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday, Merkel was asked about the recent rejection of a broadcasting license RT faced in Luxembourg, as well as about the pressure RT-family outlets faced in Germany lately.
The chancellor provided a very brief answer, insisting Germany’s central or regional authorities are not involved in the licensing process at all, as well as denying Berlin’s hand in the decision of Luxembourg regulators.
As far as RT is concerned, Germany…has not put any pressure on Luxembourg, and the decision on approval in Germany will also be independent of the government, let alone the federal government, but also of the state governments. This process is underway.
Earlier this week, Luxembourg shot down an application for the broadcasting license filed by the upcoming German-language station under the provisional name ‘RT auf Deutsch’. The grounds for rejection brewed down to some technicalities that the channel allegedly had not adhered to. RT’s legal team is now studying the decision to determine the next steps in the country.
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Luxembourg’s decision has been already condemned by Russian diplomats, with Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova lashing out at the regulator and accusing Berlin of pressing the country into shooting down RT’s application.
“It’s a savage, yet predictable result of the open pressure from the authorities of the neighboring Germany on Luxembourg,” Zakharova stated.
RT-family outlets faced pressure in Germany after the upcoming launch of the German-language channel was announced. The channel was expected to go on air in December this year. One month after the announcement, German Commerzbank abruptly closed accounts of RT-affiliated companies. One month before the hostile decision, the bank made its terms of service much less financially favorable for RT. The move prompted RT to seek a replacement for the bank, yet multiple German financial and international financial institutions either ignored or openly refused RT’s inquiries.
Multiple reports by German media suggested the pressure on RT’s affiliates came as a part of a broader campaign involving top officials with the German federal government. German Culture Minister Monika Grutters admitted in early June to the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung that the government had been “closely” monitoring whether Luxembourg grants RT a license.
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Another report from Suddeutsche Zeitung came earlier in May, claiming that German and Luxembourg officials had a private meeting to discuss the matter. According to the newspaper, officials from the Luxembourg regulator sat together with diplomats, as well as culture and media representatives of Germany’s federal government and even secret service agents from the two countries.
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