Removing RT from Canadian airwaves alone will have limited impact, ECGL says

The comments come as the CRTC is making a decision on RT's future in Canada

Ethnic Channels Group Limited (ECGL) says removing RT from Canadians’ TV screens won’t mean the English-language news channel funded by the Russian government can’t be accessed elsewhere.

The comments came after the Governor in Council asked the Canadian Radio-television Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) to determine RT’s future in Canada. Interveners had just five days to file comments, as a report is due by March 17th at the latest.

In its filing, ECGL says RT is still available through entities operating on the internet, as they don’t need approval from the CRTC to work in Canada. RT can also share the channel through websites it owns. “If the purpose of the current process is to prevent distribution of the RT Services in Canada, it may not succeed,” CEO, Slava Levin, writes in the intervention.

ECGL also says other state-owned or sponsored Russian-language news are available in Canada, such as Channel One Russia. It’s the “most viewed Russian language service in Canada” offered by local BDUs, Levin writes. But this channel, and others like it, aren’t part of the current discussion.

If “the purpose of the current process is to prevent distribution of Russian-state controlled information and news content within the ‘regulated’ BDU environment, it also may not succeed.”

Comments filed by Rogers also highlight the need to remove other channels backed by Russia, such as Channel One Russia and RTR Planeta.

Levin also notes the current process is being taken “after the fact” as several companies already removed RT from channel lineups, including Bell, Shaw, and Telus.

This was done without consultation from the CRTC or other government entities and was “non-transparent.” Levin says the power BDUs have to remove a service themselves could be extended to other shows in the future and exposes
“potential weakness in our system.”

Shaw also filed comments, stating it was not in a position to argue why RT should stay on the air. BCE or Telus did not file comments at the time of writing. The CRTC’s website shows 373 interventions were filed by the deadline.

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Source: ECGL