UK media regulator Ofcom has found Russian state-backed news channel RT guilty of breaching broadcast rules by failing to preserve impartiality in seven news and current affairs programmes over a six-week period.
The regulator said that the breaches – relating to two broadcasts of RT show Sputnik, three of Crosstalk and two news broadcasts in April this year – represented “a serious failure of compliance with our broadcasting rules” and said it had informed RT that it was minded to consider imposing a statutory sanction. RT will now have the chance to make representations to the watchdog.
The programmes were aired in the wake of the notorious assassination attempt on dissident former Russian secret service officer Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Salisbury in March.
Ofcom also found that one news broadcast in March, a broadcast of Worlds Apart in April and a news broadcast in May did not break its rules.
RT had claimed in its submission to Ofcom that its mission was “to make available an alternative point of view on world events, especially Russia-related ones” and that it had observed the impartiality rules by making ‘alternative viewpoints’ visible in the form of graphics or a news ticker while presenters and interviewees were speaking. It also claimed that its broadcasts contributed to media plurality in the UK by providing an alternative viewpoint.
Ofcom said that the requirement to preserve due impartiality “only by implicit means would not be appropriate and would not be giving those matters due weight.”