Ofcom fines Russian broadcaster RT £200,000 for breaching impartiality rules over coverage of Salisbury novichok poisonings
- TV station has been branded a ‘propaganda mouthpiece for the Russian state’
- Broadcasts mainly covered the Salisbury poisonings and the conflict in Syria
Ofcom today fined Russian broadcaster RT £200,000 for breaching impartiality rules over its coverage of the Salisbury novichok poisonings.
The TV station, which critics have branded a ‘propaganda mouthpiece for the Russian state’, failed to preserve due impartiality in seven news programmes over a six-week period, Ofcom said.
An Ofcom spokeswoman said: ‘RT’s failings were a serious breach of our due impartiality rules, which protect public trust in news and other programmes.’
A RT broadcast showing Theresa May around the time of the Salisbury poisonings
Ofcom said that its investigation found that RT failed to preserve due impartiality in seven news and current affairs programmes between March 17 and April 26, 2018.
The broadcasts mainly covered the Salisbury poisonings and the conflict in Syria.
The broadcasting regulator said that RT’s breaches represented serious and repeated failures of compliance with rules and that they were particularly concerned by the frequency of its rule-breaking over a relatively short period of time.
A statement from the RT press office said: ‘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.
‘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.’
Russian officials say RT is a way for Moscow to compete with the dominance of global media companies based in the United States and Britain, which they say offer a particular view of the world.
Critics say RT, which broadcasts news in English, Arabic and Spanish, is the propaganda arm of the Russian state and aims to undermine confidence in Western institutions.
The station was ridiculed for failing to properly question the two prime suspects in the chemical weapons attack, Alexander Mishkin and Anatoly Chepiga