UK’s Ofcom revokes RT licence

UK media regulator Ofcom has revoked the licence of Russian state-backed news channel RT to broadcast in the UK, with immediate effect.

The watchdog said that it did not consider RT’s licensee, ANO TV Novosti, fit and proper to hold a UK broadcast licence.

The decision to pull the plug on the Russian outfit comes as Ofcom proceeds with its 29 ongoing investigations into the impartiality of RT’s news and current affairs coverage of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The regulator said that the volume and potentially serious nature of the issues raised within such a short period were of great concern – particularly as RT has previously been fined £200,000 for due impartiality breaches – leading it to launch a separate overarching investigation to determine whether ANO TV Novosti is fit and proper to retain its licence to broadcast.

The probe recognised that RT is funded by the Russian state, responsible for the invasion of Ukraine, and that new laws in Russia effectively criminalise any independent journalism that departs from the Russian state’s own news narrative.

It said that, given these constraints, it would be impossible for RT to comply with the due impartiality rules of the UK Broadcasting Code.

RT is currently off air in the UK, as a result of sanctions imposed by the EU.

Ofcom concluded that it cannot be satisfied that RT can be a responsible broadcaster in the current circumstances.

“Freedom of expression is something we guard fiercely in this country, and the bar for action on broadcasters is rightly set very high. Following an independent regulatory process, we have today found that RT is not fit and proper to hold a licence in the UK. As a result we have revoked RT’s UK broadcasting licence,” said Dame Melanie Dawes, Ofcom chief executive.

Tags: Ofcom, RT, UK

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