Free press? Labour letter demands RT UK’s license gets REVOKED in light of ‘damning’ Russia report that gave NO examples or proof
An evidence-free parliamentary report accusing RT UK of being an instrument of ‘Russian influence’ in Britain is already being quoted as a pretext to ban the broadcaster, in a letter sent to Ofcom by a Labour shadow minister.
Labour MP Jo Stevens demanded that “Ofcom urgently reviews RT’s licence” and requested an urgent meeting with Dame Melanie Dawes of the regulatory agency to “discuss my concerns about the broadcaster,” in a letter sent Wednesday.
Stevens – signed as the Shadow secretary of state for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport – said the review was needed given the “troubling revelations in the Russia report about the role of RT and Sputnik in spreading Kremlin-backed disinformation in the UK.”
Fascinating to watch members of the UK legislature bully a what is supposed to be an independent regulator to score political points. A lesson in media freedoms for the world to see. https://t.co/AhN2RtASvtpic.twitter.com/LVQysKWfzt— Anna Belkina (@Anabelle10021) July 23, 2020
The shadow secretary further claimed that the parliamentary report, released on Tuesday, “sets out in black and white” the issues OFCOM has supposedly already identified with RT, and “exposes the role RT plays in the much wider issue of Russian influence.”
Unfortunately for Stevens, the report does no such thing. When asked to provide an “egregious” example of the alleged Russian interference, committee members were unable to give “any, egregious or otherwise,” as noted by the BBC’s Andrew Neill.
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The committee did not even cite any of the British intelligence agencies – indeed, it excoriated them for allegedly refusing to investigate the ‘Russian meddling’ the parliamentarians asserted as fact – but relied instead on “open-sourced reporting.”
In practice that translated to articles published in the media and testimonies from experts such as Christopher Steele of the debunked “Trump-Russia dossier” infamy, or ex-American financier Bill Browder, who’s reinvented himself as a human rights crusader after being charged in Russia with tax evasion.
Democrats in the US infamously blamed Russia for their loss to Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election, using Steele’s spurious dossier as evidence. Labour currently holds only 202 seats in the 650-member House of Commons as a result of their historic collapse in 2019.
OFCOM is a supposedly independent regulatory agency tasked with ensuring impartial reporting by media outlets operating in the UK, and this kind of pressure from a political party is highly unusual and improper.
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