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23 Feb, 2022 19:43

UK could ban RT to keep ‘one narrative’ – former British ambassador

Former officials have blasted the UK government and questioned the independence of media watchdog Ofcom over threats to ban the channel
UK could ban RT to keep ‘one narrative’ – former British ambassador

Former British diplomat Peter Ford and former London Mayor Ken Livingstone have defended news channel RT after the UK government suggested it should be banned over alleged “disinformation,” while media watchdog Ofcom said it won’t tolerate “one-sided propaganda.”

Ford, a former British Ambassador to Syria and Bahrain, and Livingstone, who served as the Mayor of London from 2000 to 2008, both spoke out against the apparent threats to withdraw the outlet’s license, as each joined RT in separate interviews on Wednesday.

“It’s appalling. The whole business is ridiculous,” Ford said, commenting on the recent announcement that British regulator Ofcom is stepping up its “oversight” of coverage on Ukraine, threatening that it will “not hesitate to take swift action where necessary.”

Ofcom’s statement followed UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s stating that Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries had appealed to Ofcom to reconsider RT’s license. 

“The government demands one narrative, not just on Ukraine, but all international affairs,” Ford said, accusing British media of being “totally one-sided” on Ukraine coverage, and adding that he can’t bring himself to watch most networks, even as a former diplomat. 

Ofcom, Ford alleged, is working on behalf of the British government and won’t be the “real decider” of RT’s fate. According to the former ambassador, the government is only “pretending to pass the buck to Ofcom.” Ford blasted the regulator as a “creature of the British state, staffed by figures of the British state.” 

Livingstone offered a similar analysis later, accusing British media of being one-sided in their coverage and admitting he watches RT every day and has never seen what he would consider “propaganda.”

“I watch RT every day – I have never seen propaganda,” Livingstone said. He went on to contrast RT’s Ukraine coverage with that of the BBC, accusing the British state-funded outlet of not providing the perspective of the actual territories they are discussing, such as the Donbass.

People “aren’t being told the truth in this country,” the former mayor of London added.

“I haven’t seen a single news program pointing out that these are substantial Russian communities,” Livingstone said, referring to the breakaway eastern Ukrainian Donetsk (DPR) and Lugansk (LPR) People’s Republics. 

Russian President Vladimir Putin recognized the independence from Ukraine of both the DPR and LPR on Monday. The move has led to economic sanctions from the US and the EU, which deny Putin’s claim of an impending attack by West-backed Kiev troops, and say the territories belong to Ukraine. Kiev has threatened to sever diplomatic ties with Moscow, but at the same time dismissed the western media narrative claiming a full-blown conflict with Russia was imminent.