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Ofcom revokes RT’s broadcast licence

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

We have done so on the basis that we do not consider RT’s licensee, ANO TV Novosti, fit and proper to hold a UK broadcast licence.

Today’s decision comes amid 29 ongoing investigations by Ofcom into the due impartiality of RT’s news and current affairs coverage of Russia’s invasion of 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 for previous due impartiality breaches.

In this context, we launched a separate investigation to determine whether ANO TV Novosti is fit and proper to retain its licence to broadcast.

This investigation has taken account of a number of factors, including RT’s relationship with the Russian Federation. It has recognised that RT is funded by the Russian state, which has recently invaded a neighbouring sovereign country. We also note new laws in Russia which effectively criminalise any independent journalism that departs from the Russian state’s own news narrative, in particular in relation to the invasion of Ukraine. We consider that given these constraints it appears impossible for RT to comply with the due impartiality rules of our Broadcasting Code in the circumstances.

We recognise 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 take seriously the importance, in our democratic society, of a broadcaster’s right to freedom of expression and the audience’s right to receive information and ideas without undue interference. We also take seriously the importance of maintaining audiences’ trust and public confidence in the UK’s broadcasting regulatory regime.

Taking all of this into account, as well as our immediate and repeated compliance concerns, we have concluded that we cannot be satisfied that RT can be a responsible broadcaster in the current circumstances. Ofcom is therefore revoking RT’s licence to broadcast with immediate effect. BCS Bureau

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