RT responds to 'absurd' UK media censor ruling
RT has pointed out the ‘absurdity’ of UK media regulator Ofcom’s decision to find the Russian outlet guilty of violating broadcasting rules months after revoking its license. In a statement on Monday, RT also questioned how British authorities planned to further punish the already sanctioned company.
On July 18, Ofcom published a ruling saying that more than two dozen RT programs that went on air in the UK between February 27 and March 2 – days after the launch of the Russian military operation in Ukraine – represented “serious and repeated breaches” of the impartiality rules of its broadcasting code.
During matters of “major political controversy,” like the conflict in Ukraine, all Ofcom licensees must comply with the special impartiality requirements that call upon them to provide “due weight to a wide range of significant views,” the regulator explained.
Due to the violations of those rules by RT, Ofcom is “minded to consider them for the imposition of a statutory sanction,” it added.
In response to the ruling, RT’s press service pointed out that “the logic of these decisions mirrors the one guiding their delivery many months after Ofcom's revocation of RT's license: it is a trial after a conviction and RT is guilty of being Russian and daring to voice a point of view and show facts unacceptable to the British political and media establishments.”
As for the possible sanctions mulled by the British regulator, RT said that it was “very curious about how creative Ofcom will be with these potential sanctions: make RT broadcast their decision on a channel that no longer broadcasts in the UK or Europe? Fine a sanctioned company from which they are forbidden to receive money according to UK law under which they operate? Maybe, even revoke our broadcast license? Let’s get out the popcorn.”
Ofcom withdrew RT’s broadcasting license in the UK on March 18, justifying the move, among other things, by claiming that it couldn’t see the outlet providing objective coverage of the events in Ukraine due to being funded by the Russian government.
Back then, the watchdog acknowledged that it had cleared RT of wrongdoing in some of its previous investigations of alleged breaches and that since those cases, the last of which happened in 2018, “we have not had reason to investigate any of its programming, and have not found it in breach of the Code.”
Nevertheless, Ofcom decided that RT’s compliance history “demonstrates that it has particular difficulty in complying with the due impartiality rules of the Code where they relate to matters of Russian foreign policy.”
The EU also banned RT’s broadcast in March, accusing it of “disinformation and information manipulation.” The outlet decried the decisions by both London and Brussels, calling them unjust and politically motivated.