ECHR: fine imposed on TV company for racist and discriminatory content was proportionate

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On 21 July in Chamber judgment in the case Sigma Radio Television Ltd. v. Cyprus (application no. 32181/04) the European Court of Human Rights held, unanimously, that there had been: No violation of Article 10 (freedom of expression) of the European Convention on Human Rights. The case concerned a number of decisions of the Cyprus Radio and Television Authority imposing fines on the applicant company for violations of legislation concerning radio and television programmes it had broadcast, and the alleged unfairness of the related domestic proceedings.

Principal facts

The applicant, Sigma Radio Television Ltd (“the company”), is a company registered in Cyprus, which operates a television station, “Sigma TV”, and a radio station, “Radio Proto”. Between 2000 and 2002, the Cyprus Radio and Television Authority (“the Authority”)examined a number of broadcasts transmitted by the company’s television and radio stations. In some of the cases, it was acting on complaints and in others of its own accord. The company was informed of the possibility of contraventions on its part and was invited by the Authority to make submissions if it so wished. Hearings were held in all cases and the company made written and/or oral submissions in some of the cases. The Authority issued 27 decisions which found the company in violation of one or more provisions of the Radio and Television Stations Law and the Radio and Television Stations Regulations, and imposed fines, which the company paid between 2001 and 2008. Here to read more.

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