The license of the state-funded Russian broadcaster RT was cancelled by Britain’s communications regulator on Friday, after concerns that its coverage of the Ukraine conflict was biased.
The announcement comes as Ofcom undertakes 29 investigations into the impartiality of RT’s coverage of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The amount and substance of the complaints identified by these probes are “very concerning,” according to the regulator, especially because RT had previously been penalized 200,000 pounds for violating impartiality rules.
The fact that Russia attacked its smaller neighbor, as well as RT’s sponsorship from the Russian state, played a role in the decision, according to Ofcom.
As a consequence, Ofcom decided that ANO TV Novosti, RT’s parent business, isn’t “fit and appropriate to maintain a U.K. broadcast license.” The action is mostly symbolic, as the station is already off the air owing to European Union sanctions.
“We also notice new Russian legislation that essentially criminalize any independent journalism that contradicts the Russian state’s own news narrative, particularly in respect to the invasion of Ukraine,” the regulator said in a statement. “In the circumstances, we believe it is difficult for RT to comply with the proper impartiality criteria of our Broadcasting Code given these limits.”
In a statement, RT said that the regulator had denied the British public access to information and overlooked its “clean record” of four years.
With its judgment, Ofcom “has shown the U.K. public, and the regulatory community abroad, that behind a well-constructed mask of independence, it is nothing more than an instrument of government, bowing to its media-suppressing whim,” according to RT deputy editor-in-chief Anna Belkina.
Ofcom’s decision was “extremely positive,” according to government minister James Heappey. However, he emphasized that “rather than the government, it was the regulator who made the decision.”
In the meantime, a German court has denied RT’s legal effort to continue broadcasting in the nation.
The administrative court in Berlin ruled on Friday that RT DE could not be disseminated in Germany awaiting the outcome of the case’s normal legal processes. Last month, German media regulators imposed a ban on RT DE, claiming the lack of a broadcasting license.
The verdict was the subject of an emergency injunction filed by RT DE.