Seven programs from Russian state-funded RT (formerly Russia Today) broke bias guidelines, the UK broadcast regulator OfCom ruled. Further, OfCom said, this amounts to a “serious failure of compliance with our broadcasting rules.” RT has a chance to respond before OfCom decides on any sanction.
“Earlier this year, Ofcom launched a number of investigations into RT to determine whether certain programmes broadcast on the channel had complied with broadcasting rules requiring due impartiality,” OfCom noted. It ruled seven out of ten programs in March through May 2018 failed to be impartial.
In an e-mail to iMediaEthics, RT’s press office sent this statement:
“RT is extremely disappointed by Ofcom’s conclusions in what were almost all self-initiated investigations into RT by the regulator. We operate under rules outlined by the regulator, and always strive to abide by them. It appears Ofcom has failed to fully take on-board what we said in response to its investigations and, in particular, has not paid due regard to the rights of a broadcaster and the audience. We are reviewing the findings Ofcom has put forward and will decide shortly the nature of our next steps.”
The seven problematic programs were:
- Sputnik, RT, 17 March 2018, 19:30;
- News, RT, 18 March 2018, 08:00;
- Sputnik, RT, 7 April 2018, 19:30;
- Crosstalk, RT, 13 April 2018, 20:30;
- Crosstalk, RT, 16 April 2018, 20:30;
- Crosstalk, RT, 20 April 2018, 08:30; and
- News, RT, 26 April 2018, 08:00.
The programs included coverage of the poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripel, war in Syria and Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s visit to the U.S.
In response, RT denied being a propaganda outlet for the Russian government but instead claimed it wanted to “cover stories overlooked or underreported by the mainstream media; provide alternative perspectives on current affairs; and, question the long-held, often unfounded, assumptions and cliches that often underlie the reporting on news and the discussion of current affairs.”
The full OfCom ruling is here.