18 Mar 2022 12:59

British media regulator Ofcom revokes RT's UK broadcasting license

LONDON. March 18 (Interfax) - The British authorities have withdrawn the license to broadcast in the United Kingdom from the RT television channel, which had previously been taken off air due to sanctions, the British media regulator Ofcom said in a statement on Friday.

"Ofcom has today revoked RT's license to broadcast in the UK, with immediate effect," the statement said.

RT is currently off air in the UK.

"We recognize that RT is currently off air in the UK, as a result of sanctions imposed by the EU since the invasion of Ukraine commenced. [...] We have concluded that we cannot be satisfied that RT can be a responsible broadcaster in the current circumstances," the statement said.

This decision was made amid Ofcom's 29 ongoing investigations into the impartiality of the news broadcast by RT and its coverage of current events and the actions of Russian troops in Ukraine.

"We consider the volume and potentially serious nature of the issues raised within such a short period to be of great concern - especially given RT's compliance history, which has seen the channel fined 200,000 pounds sterling for previous due impartiality breaches," Ofcom said.

In addition, RT's funding from the Russian state, Russia's actions in Ukraine, the laws it recently adopted to restrict the activities of independent media in Russia itself, and the cessation of RT's broadcast in the European Union and the UK as part of imposed sanctions were taken into account.

"Freedom of expression is something we guard fiercely in this country, and the bar for action on broadcasters is rightly set very high. Following an independent regulatory process, we have today found that RT is not fit and proper to hold a license in the UK. As a result we have revoked RT's UK broadcasting license," Ofcom Chief Executive Melanie Dawes said.

RT Deputy Editor-in-Chief Anna Belkina, for her part, said that Ofcom's decision was politically motivated.

"There is no doubt that Ofcom's decision to withdraw RT's broadcasting license is politically motivated. The UK has been looking for a formal pretense to close RT for many years, but was trying to maintain the appearance of freedom of speech. And now they showed their true colors. All these days, British politicians were grossly interfering in the work of the allegedly independent regulator Ofcom. As a result, the media regulator has initiated over 20 investigations into the RT television channel's 'due impartiality' in just two weeks," the RT Telegram channel quoted Belkina as saying.

At the same time, "Ofcom does not doubt the one-sided coverage of the situation in Ukraine by British channels," she said.

"We have been banned from working for one reason: any point of view different from the official one simply has no right to exist in the West," she said.