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Lithuania May Block Two More Russian TV Channels for Biased Coverage

Lithuania's media watchdog may halt broadcasting of two Russian television stations within the country for allegedly running biased content that incites hatred toward other nations, Delfi news agency reported.

The television channels, RTR Planeta and NTV Mir Lithuania, have already seen some of their programs suspended for three months, Edmundas Vaitiekunas, the head of Lithuania's Radio and Television Commission, was cited as telling Baltic News Service (BNS) on Monday.

"If a ban is imposed on the whole channel due to repeated violations, I believe it should be longer … I believe it should be up to one year," he told BNS.

The commission is also considering restricting programs on another channel of Russian origin, REN TV Baltic.

Many Russian television stations have come under fire in neighboring countries in recent months for their coverage of the Ukraine crisis.

Over the summer, media watchdogs in Ukraine and Moldova banned broadcasts of several Russian channels, saying that their coverage was dominated by propaganda about the conflict in Ukraine.

In October, Lithuania blocked First Baltic Channel, which had been running programs from Russia's state-run news station Channel One, for its coverage of the Ukraine crisis.

Before banning the channels, the commission must negotiate with broadcasters and notify the European Commission of the violation. It will also need to establish that the offense was repeated and hear the opinion of the country's inspector on journalistic ethics.

If they are found to have violated the law, the broadcasters will need to "admit that the information was biased, instigating hatred, etc." and air a disclaimer in order to keep their channels on the air, Vaitiekunas said

"If not, then we will make our decision, and that's it," he added.

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