Russian exile TV channel Dozhd allowed to broadcast from the Netherlands

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) hails the Dutch media regulator’s decision to issue Russian exile TV channel Dozhd (TV Rain) with a licence to broadcast throughout the European Union from the Netherlands. RSF also hopes this will improve the chances of the Latvian judicial system accepting to review Dozhd’s appeal of the Baltic state’s recent decision to rescind its licence to broadcast from Riga.

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Prevented from broadcasting from its base in Latvia since 6 December, Dozhd has just announced that it plans to move most of its editorial staff to Amsterdam in response to the Dutch regulator’s decision on 22 December to allow the independent channel forced into exile to broadcast on European cable TV networks for five years.

“This is very good news for the fight against Russian disinformation,” said Jeanne Cavelier, the head of RSF’s Eastern Europe and Central Asia desk. “On the pretext of combatting Kremlin propaganda, the Latvian regulator shot itself in the foot by rescinding Dozhd’s licence and thereby set a dangerous precedent. We support this TV channel and we now hope that the Latvian justice system will allow it to appeal in order to defend its reputation.”

Dozhd editor-in-chief Tikhon Dziadko is scheduled to appear on January 11 before the Latvian parliament’s human rights committee in a hearing of which the recording could be used by the court that will hear Dozhd’s appeal – if an appeal is allowed.

But the parliamentary committee’s president, Ieva Brante, appeared to prejudge the issue on Latvian public radio this morning, when she accused Dozhd of a “lack of respect” simply because it is appealing against the withdrawal of its licence (as is its legal right).  

Coming from a parliamentarian who is also a lawyer, and in a democratic country, this was a surprising view, and a concerning one for all the Russian journalists and media outlets that have found a refuge in Latvia since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24.

Dozhd filed its appeal on January 9. But the TV channel is no longer seeking to recover its Latvian licence. It just wants to explain to the court the mistakes it made that led to this sanction, one that it regards as unjust and disproportionate. “TV Rain is not a threat to Latvian national security,” it said in a post on Telegram.

In order to strengthen confidence in the quality of its reporting, Dozhd also hopes to be certified soon by the Journalism Trust Initiative, which RSF launched with the aim of providing media outlets with a way to demonstrate that they comply with the highest standards of professional and ethical journalism.

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