Russia Today broadcast licence revoked by Ofcom

russia today

Ofcom said it has revoked Russia Today’s licence to broadcast in the UK, with immediate effect.

The UK media regulator said it had done so on the basis that it does 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. 

Russia Today off the air

Ofcom said it considers 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, Ofcom 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”, the media regulator said in a statement. 

“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. 

Ofcom said it also takes 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.

Commenting on the move, Ofcom CEO, 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 today found that RT is not fit and proper to hold a licence in the UK. As a result we have revoked RT’s UK broadcasting licence.