Liz Truss, the UK’s foreign secretary, has said that media regulator Ofcom will look into the status of news broadcaster RT amid Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine.
RT, which is backed by the Kremlin, has come under significant scrutiny from major Western European forces due to its political ties. The broadcaster recently had its German broadcast licence revoked, and was heavily fined by Ofcom in 2019.
Speaking to Times Radio, Truss said: “On the subject of Russia Today I am of the view that it broadcasts propaganda and fake news on a regular basis and is effectively an arm of the Russian state, and I’m sure Ofcom is looking at that.”
The sentiments were backed by opposition leader Keir Starmer, who called on RT to be banned for its “campaign of misinformation”
In a statement, Ofcom said that it would prioritise complaints levied at RT in light of the ongoing situation in eastern Ukraine. It said: “Given the seriousness of the Ukraine crisis, we will examine complaints about any broadcaster’s news coverage of this issue as a priority.”
Responding to the comments of Truss and Ofcom itself, RT deputy editor in chief Anna Belkina told Reuters: “It is unfortunate that Minister Truss, and, recently, a select few other UK politicians, seem to be trying to directly or indirectly interfere in institutions they tout as supposedly independent and wholly free from political pressure. These comments once more undermine the independence of the UK regulator.”
Elsewhere, prime minister Boris Johnson called on UEFA to strip Russia of its hosting rights to the Champions League final. The final is scheduled to be hosted in Saint Petersburg, but UEFA has said there are no plans to move the showpiece event at present.