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Entire Kremlin-backed TV channel RT has licence revoked by Ofcom

Daisy Jackson Daisy Jackson - 18th March 2022

Ofcom has revoked TV channel RT’s licence to broadcast in the UK with immediate effect.

The regulator said that it found the media company not to be ‘fit and proper’ to hold a UK broadcast licence.

Ofcom is currently undertaking 29 different investigations into the due impartiality of RT’s coverage of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Ofcom said that they were not satisfied that the Kremlin-funded station ‘can be a responsible broadcaster in the current circumstances’.

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RT has already been off air in the UK for two weeks due to sanctions imposed by the EU.

President Vladimir Putin. The Russian state backs TV channel RT, which has had its licence revoked today. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

It has previously been fined £200,000 for due impartiality breaches, but Ofcom now says the volume of issues raised are ‘of great concern’.

Its investigation took into account RT’s relationship with the Russian Federation and new laws in Russia which ‘effectively criminalise any independent journalism’, saying that it ‘appears impossible’ for RT to comply with due impartiality rules.

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Dame Melanie Dawes, Ofcom Chief Executive, said: “Freedom of expression is something we guard fiercely in this country, and the bar for action on broadcasters is rightly set very high.

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“Following an independent regulatory process, we have today found that RT is not fit and proper to hold a licence in the UK.

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“As a result we have revoked RT’s UK broadcasting licence.”

RT’s deputy editor-in-chief Anna Belkina has since responded to Ofcom, saying it has: “Shown the UK public, and the regulatory community internationally, that despite a well-constructed facade of independence, it is nothing more than a tool of government, bending to its media-suppressing will.

“By ignoring RT’s completely clean record of four consecutive years and stating purely political reasons tied directly to the situation in Ukraine and yet completely unassociated to RT’s operations, structure, management or editorial output, Ofcom has falsely judged RT to not be ‘fit and proper’ and in doing so robbed the UK public of access to information.”

Featured image: Ofcom / Wikimedia Commons