Russian net may lose Ukraine license

RTR Planeta accused of illegal broadcasting

MOSCOW -- Ukraine's National Television Co. has threatened to revoke the license of Russian channel RTR Planeta, accusing it of illegally broadcasting this year's Eurovision Song Contest in the Ukraine last month.

NTC asserts that all the rights for broadcasting the music event in Ukraine belonged to the country's state-controlled channel First National (UT-1) and that RTR Planeta broadcast the show illegally.

However, the Russian channel, which broadcasts in the CIS countries, Western Europe, U.S. and Canada via cable or satellite, shrugged off the accusations, saying that it has a valid contract allowing it to broadcast the event in Ukraine.

The channel has had problems in Ukraine in the past, making the revoking of its license a real possibility.

Two years ago, at NTC's demand, the channel was taken off the basic package of Ukraine's major cable service provider, Volya, and it was banned altogether in the Volyn region of western Ukraine.

The threat to RTR-Planeta comes amidst controversy about some other Russian channels' broadcasting in Ukraine. A month ago, several Ukrainian public associations called on the country's authorities to remove state-run Russian channels -- the First Channel, Rossiya and NTV -- from Ukrainian cable networks on the grounds of "anti-Ukrainian propaganda."