Since the Salisbury poisoning of a former Russian spy and his daughter, the British media regulator Ofcom says there has been “a significant increase” of questionable programming coming out of Russia.
This week, Ofcom opened three new investigations into the Russian government-owned channel RT. The announcement came on May 21.
“We have opened three further investigations into the due impartiality of news and current affairs programs broadcast on RT,” an Ofcom spokeswoman said.
“The response to this show and the outcome will be tough,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told the media on Wednesday.
Zakharova said, that Russia’s authorities have already begun to scrutinize the content of British media publications represented in Russia.”
According to the “Update on the RT service,” a report originally posted by Ofcom on April 18, the three new investigations come in addition to the eight ongoing cases. That brings to 11, the number of “potential breaches by RT in Britain.
The Ofcom report says, since the RT parent group ANO TV Novosti gained its first license in Britain in May 2012 there had been 15 earlier breaches – investigations that found violations of the UK Broadcasting code, two of which Ofcom said were “serious.”
Ofcom said in the 15 concluded investigations RT violated the following codes: “due impartiality, due accuracy, harm (violence/offensive language), elections/referendum, material misleadingness, fairness.”
The 11 open investigations into the potential breach of regulations on due impartiality carry the threat that RT could lose its license in Britain.
“The main reason for broadcasting to be regulated is to protect the audience from harm,” Ofcom said.
In a statement on the original allegations, RT said, “We are pleased to see that Ofcom has acknowledged RT’s compliance record has been in line with other broadcasters…”
The Ofcom document noted, however, that was the case “until recently,” but that changed following the poisoning of ex-spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter in March.
RT claimed its “editorial approach has not changed,” in the earlier statement.
“In relation to our fit and proper duty, we will consider all relevant new evidence, including the outcome of these investigations and the future conduct of the licensee,” Ofcom said.
According to Ofcom, ANO TV Novosti holds three broadcasting licenses in the UK covering broadcasts via both satellite and the Internet as well as on digital terrestrial television. RT has an average audience of 3,400 viewers at any given point during the day and an average weekly reach of 1.06% of adults (540,000) in Britain.
Ofcom regulates other government and private founded international broadcasters and in comparison, since May 2012 CNN and CNN International accounted for three breaches, while Al Jazeera English had one breach, and the Sky News channel – ten breaches. The privately owned U.S. network, Fox News, also received nine warnings from Ofcom.
Ofcom said, it has revoked licenses in the past “to protect children from hardcore pornography and following the broadcast of material likely to incite terrorism.”
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