Sigma Radio Television Ltd. v. Cyprus

European Court of Human Rights
21 July 2011


The applicant, Sigma Radio Television Ltd, was a company operating a television and radio station. The Cyprus Radio and Television Authority (CRTA) examined a number of different broadcasts transmitted by the applicant’s television and radio stations and issued several decisions in which found the applicant company in violation of legal provisions of national law concerning precluded ways of advertising, inappropriate content unsuitable for minors, etc. The CRTA imposed fines in all the cases. The applicant brought a number of separate appeals for judicial review before the Supreme Court, however, the CRTA’s decisions were upheld.


The applicant company complained that the CRTA’s decisions and imposition of a fine had violated its freedom of expression.

Court's ruling

The Court did not find the CRTA’s decisions violating the applicant company’s freedom of expression, as the decisions were necessary to protect the legitimate interests of viewers.

The Court found that:

The decisions were based on legal provisions, some more specific than others, however, it could not be said, that any of these provisions were so vague and imprecise as to lack the required foreseeability of law. Thus the interference was prescribed by law and was aimed at the protection of the rights of others.

As regards the necessity of the decisions, the Court took into account:

  • the content of the programs;
  • the protection of pluralism of information;
  • the need for a fair and accurate presentation of facts;
  • protection of the reputation, honour, good name and privacy of persons involved in or affected by the broadcast;
  • the amount of the fines imposed.

The Court noted that the CRTA had considered the aforementioned aspects and given sufficient reasons for the restriction of the applicant company’s freedom of expression.

The Court examined separately another decision of the CRTA regarding 3500 euro fine imposed on the applicant company for airing racist and discriminatory remarks towards women in one of its TV series.

The Court noted that:

  • The amount of the fine was proportional as it was aimed at the protection of the rights of others.
  • The CRTA had also taken into account the repeated violations by the company in other episodes of the same series.

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Last updated 26/02/2024