Russian state broadcaster RT launches UK news channel

Russian state broadcaster RT has launched a dedicated UK version news channel, RT UK.

The channel is headquartered at London’s Millbank and the expansion of the UK news bureau into a fully-fledged UK channel will bring five hours of UK-specific programming each day.

The broadcaster is often accused of distributing pro-Russian propaganda, but Margarita Simonyan, RT editor in chief, said the service would offer news that viewers wouldn’t otherwise see on “mainstream channels”.

“It has always been RT’s goal to bring new perspectives to our viewers – to show them the side of the story they won’t see on the mainstream channels,” she said.

“Now, with a dedicated UK channel, we can serve the needs and interests of the British public by promoting debate and new ways of thinking about specifically British issues.”

Anna Belkina, head of communications at RT, told The Drum that RT has been putting plans together for a full UK service over the last year.

“We’ve always had a mind to have a dedicated UK channel,” she said. “We launched RT America in 2010, and that was a pretty big success.

“Obviously we’re an international news channel but when you have additional content, additional perspective that’s really more personal, more relevant, more specific to the local market it resonates with the viewer much more.”

The Russian government-backed news broadcaster has courted controversy with its coverage of recent global stories, and particularly its reporting around the regional conflict in Ukraine.

In July, RT’s London correspondent Sara Firth quit in protest at coverage of the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17.

The service is available via Freeview channel 135 and Sky channel 512.

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