UK media and telecoms regulator Ofcom has opened seven new investigations into Russian overseas news channel RT following the nerve agent attack on a Russian exile and his daughter in the city of Salisbury.
Ofcom said that RT parent TV Novosti’s overall compliance record with its licence had not previously been out of line with other broadasters, but that since the Salisbury attack on Sergei and Yulia Skrypal the regulator had observed a “significant increase” in programmes on RT that could be in breach of the Ofcom Broadcasting Code.
Specifically, Ofcom is investigating whether two news broadcasts, two broadcasts of the show Sputnik, two of the show Crosstalk and one broadcast of Worlds Apart with Oksana Boyko broke its impartiality rules.
In determining whether TV Novosti, which is considered for practical purposes to be a state-backed broadcaster, is a ‘fit and proper’ holder of a UK licence, Ofcom said it was “not possible or appropriate for us to seek to reach an independent determination on the events in Salisbury” and that “the most appropriate way to consider whether TV Novosti is likely to act in a fit and proper way is to consider its broadcasting conduct” in relation to potential breaches of the Broadcasting Code.
Ofcom said that it would reveal the outcome of its investigations as soon as possible.
In the wake of the Salisbury attack, a number of politicians had called for measures to be taken against RT. The government indicated that any action would be for Ofcom to take.
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