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26 Jul, 2019 09:16

Ofcom’s £200,000 fine against RT ‘inappropriate and disproportionate’

Ofcom’s £200,000 fine against RT ‘inappropriate and disproportionate’

British broadcast regulator Ofcom slapped RT with a six-figure fine for allegedly breaching impartiality rules. It comes before a pending Judicial Review and dwarfs fines imposed on media outlets that gave air to hate speech.

Last December, Ofcom said that in seven instances over the year RT failed to adhere to the British impartiality rules when covering controversial issues like the Skripal poisoning case in the UK or the role played by the US in the war in Syria. RT believes the decision to be wrong and has challenged it in court. Last month, London High Court allowed the case to proceed despite Ofcom claiming that RT’s case had no merit.

On Friday, the regulator announced its decision to slap a £200,000 ($250,000) fine on RT as sanction for the alleged 2018 violations. The penalty seems “particularly inappropriate and disproportionate per Ofcom’s own track record,” RT’s press service said in response.

“It is very wrong for Ofcom to have issued a sanction against RT on the basis of its breach findings that are currently under Judicial Review by the High Court in London. RT went to court over Ofcom’s December findings against our network because we believe that they were reached in a manner contrary to the law and were wrong. Last month we received confirmation from a judge at a hearing in the High Court that, despite Ofcom's opposition, our case against Ofcom should proceed. And while we continue to contest the very legitimacy of the breach decisions themselves, we find the scale of proposed penalty to be particularly inappropriate and disproportionate per Ofcom’s own track record. It is notable that cases that involved hate speech and incitement to violence have been subject to substantially lower fines. ”

In 2016, Ofcom fined Peace TV Urdu £65,000 for airing public lectures, in which the Jewish people were called a “cursed race” possessing “evil genius” that wants “to bring the world to heel through the global banking network”.

The same year Noor TV was fined £75,000 for airing a sermon, during which a speaker said that killing a Jew would be an act of devotion to the will of Prophet Muhammed.  

“It is astonishing that, in contrast, Ofcom sees RT's programmes – which  Ofcom thought should have presented more alternative points of view – as worthy of greater sanction than programmes containing hate speech and incitement to violence.“We are duly considering further legal options,” RT press service said.

Also on rt.com Twitter reacts to Ofcom’s £200,000 'impartiality' fine against RT, urges watchdog to look elsewhere

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