Eir removes Russia’s RT channels from its television service

Crackdown on Kremlin-backed media steps up in battle against disinformation

Eir has removed the Kremlin-backed television news channel RT, previously known as Russia Today, from the television service it offers its Irish broadband customers.

The withdrawal of the English-language iteration of RT from Eir TV on Monday comes amid increased attempts across the world to crack down on disinformation spread by Russian state media following Putin's invasion of Ukraine.

“Eir has removed the channel RT (formerly known as Russia Today) and RT Documentaries from its TV service,” a spokesman for the French-owned Eir said in response to a query from The Irish Times about whether its inclusion of RT was under review.

"Eir has also made calls and texts to Ukraine free of charge for its customers and Eir customers in Ukraine can avail of free roaming to contact family and friends in Ireland, " the spokesman added.

It is understood that Eir was the only television service in the Republic offering RT as part of its line-up of news channels.

On Sunday, European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen announced that RT and another state-owned news service, Sputnik, would be banned in the EU, alongside their subsidiaries, so they "will no longer be able to spread their lies to justify Putin's war".

Ms von der Leyen said the EU was “developing tools to ban their toxic and harmful disinformation in Europe”, without giving further details.

Worldwide response

In Canada, several telecoms operators have also stopped offering RT, while in New Zealand, Sky Television, which is not connected to the European company Sky, did the same.

Meanwhile, Google has also barred RT and other Russian channels from receiving money for advertisements on websites, apps and YouTube videos, while Facebook has taken a similar move.

RT's English-language channel retains a UK broadcasting licence from Ofcom, although British culture secretary Nadine Dorries has written to the regulator to ask it to review whether it should be permitted to broadcast "harmful disinformation".

There are fears in Britain that Moscow could ban the BBC in retaliation for any move to block RT.

This week's EU sanctions against RT comes after a recent licensing dispute between German media regulators and RT in light of the latter's attempted use of a Serbian licence to broadcast its German-language channel in Germany.

After Germany banned RT, Russia responded by closing Deutsche Welle’s Moscow bureau, revoking the credentials of its journalists.

Laura Slattery

Laura Slattery

Laura Slattery is an Irish Times journalist writing about media, advertising and other business topics

READ MORE