Politics

Russia Immediately Loses Its License To Broadcast In The UK ‘With Speedy Impact’

Russia Today has lost its license to broadcast in the UK.

In a statement, broadcasting watchdog Ofcom said it was not “fit and proper”, given its close links to the Russian state.

The move follows accusations that the channel – which is now known as RT – was promoting pro-Putin propaganda about the war in Ukraine.

It has been unavailable to British viewers since earlier this month as a result of a ban imposed by the European Union.

Ofcom chief executive Dame Melanie Dawes said: “Freedom of expression is something we guard fiercely in this country, and the bar for action on broadcasters is rightly set very high.

“Following an independent regulatory process, we have found today that RT is not fit and proper to hold a license in the UK. As a result we have revoked RT’s UK broadcasting licence.”

The watchdog said there were 29 ongoing investigations by Ofcom into the impartiality of RT’s news and current affairs coverage of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“In this context, we launched a separate investigation to determine whether ANO TV Novosti is fit and proper to retain its license to broadcast,” Ofcom said.

“This investigation has taken account of a number of factors, including RT’s relationship with the Russian Federation. It has recognized that RT is funded by the Russian state, which has recently invaded a neighboring sovereign country.

“We also note new laws in Russia which effectively criminalize 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.”

Ofcom said that while freedom of expression is important, viewers must have trust 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 license to broadcast with immediate effect.”

Welcoming the move, shadow culture secretary Lucy Powell said: “Labour has long called for Russia Today, Putin’s propaganda factory, to have its license revoked. We welcome this decision though it should have come much sooner.”

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