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French regulator investigates Russian broadcaster RT France

February 4, 2022 GMT

PARIS (AP) — France’s broadcast watchdog has opened an inquiry into news coverage by Russian state TV channel RT France, after the regulator was alerted to concerns about some of its programs.

The regulator, called Arcom, confirmed the inquiry Friday. It did not elaborate on reasons for the move, but noted that it regularly investigates concerns about channels that broadcast in France. RT France, which launched in 2017, is part of the global RT TV network.

Many in France see RT as a Russian government propaganda tool that amplifies far-right or populist politics. It has repeatedly come under criticism from centrist President Emmanuel Macron.

While the inquiry is just an inquiry at this stage and doesn’t involve any restrictions on the channel’s programming, RT France director Xenia Fedorova tweeted: “Welcome to the new world of censorship” and sarcastically called it “perfect timing” after RT’s recent difficulties in Germany.

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A German media regulator ruled Tuesday that RT lacks the necessary permission to broadcast its German-language programs in the country. RT DE started broadcasting in mid-December using a Serbian license.

In retaliation, Russia on Thursday announced that it is shutting down the Moscow office of German public broadcaster Deutsche Welle and withdrawing its staff’s accreditations. It was the latest move by Russia’s government against foreign or independent journalists.

The French Foreign Ministry said in a statement Friday that it “deplores” Moscow’s decision to shut down Deutsche Welle’s activities. “The freedom to inform is a fundamental right that should be protected everywhere,” it said.