UK broadcast regulator OfCom ruled last month that Russia Today broke its code four times. And Russia Today isn’t happy, according to a press release the English-language Russian news channel sent to iMediaEthics.
“We are shocked and disappointed in Ofcom’s decision,” RT’s editor in chief Margarita Simonyan is quoted as saying.
The four rulings found issues with impartiality in RT programs.
- RT documentary Ukraine’s Refugees – ruled impartial: According to RT it “did not generate a single complaint from the audience, but was assessed on OfCom’s own initiative, and which was based on the accounts of refugees fleeing war in southeastern Ukraine, had violated the due impartiality clause. The regulator stated that the authors didn’t sufficiently represent the Ukrainian government’s point of view, even though it unambiguously stated in the film that Kiev “denied all charges of crimes against civilians.”
- And the now-canceled commentary program The TruthSeeker – which had three rulings against it, including one about a story on the BBC. Regarding the BBC, RT said the BBC “staged” a report on chemical weapons in Syria, the BBC reported, noting it complained about the claims. RT also said the BBC had been under a “massive public investigation” when there were only three complaints. OfCom found that was a “misrepresentation and overstatement.” OfCom also ruled against a RT TruthSeeker story claiming genocide in Eastern Ukraine, which OfCom said was unbalanced and “presented a significantly negative picture of the Ukrainian government and its military forces.”
Read the full OfCom report on the RT programs here.
The BBC issued a statement about the ruling concerning its coverage of Syria, saying: “We welcome this decision not only on behalf of the BBC but of the victims of the attack we reported and the brave medics who struggled to save their lives. This impartial, fearless and award-winning reporting in Syria from Ian Pannell, Darren Conway and their team demonstrated the journalistic values which make us one of the world’s most trusted news broadcasters.”
In response to the OfCom rulings, RT’s Simonyan is quoted as saying, “We are being criticized because the show used statements made by Ukrainian politicians — i.e. their own words — because those statements make them look bad. That we, essentially, had picked the wrong quotes. This is a rather peculiar approach to journalism.”
“The Russian government, which funds RT’s operations in the UK and elsewhere, has close ties to the Assad regime and separatist groups in Ukraine opposing the government in Kiev,” The Guardian reported.
RT declined to comment further to iMediaEthics.