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Ofcom Media

RT brands £200,000 Ofcom impartiality fine as ‘inappropriate and disproportionate’


By John McCarthy, Opinion Editor

July 26, 2019 | 3 min read

Russian state broadcaster RT has rallied against a six-figure fine from Ofcom “for serious failures to comply with [Ofcom] broadcasting rules”.


RT brands £200,000 Ofcom impartiality fine as ‘inappropriate and disproportionate’

The UK broadcast regulator Ofcom today issued a £200,000 fine to the outlet for a breaching impartiality rules in seven news and current affairs programmes between 17 March and 26 April 2018.

Ofcom said it was particularly concerned about the frequency of RT’s rule-breaking over a relatively short period of time, largely breaches were related to the UK government’s response to the events in Salisbury, and the Syrian conflict (both sore points in UK/Russian relations).

In addition to the fine, RT must broadcast a summary of the findings.

Ofcom said: “We consider this sanction to be appropriate and proportionate. It takes into account the additional steps that RT has taken to ensure its compliance since we launched our investigations; and that we have not recorded any further breaches of our due impartiality rules against RT to date.”

RT has applied for judicial review but responded to the fine.

A spokesperson said the response was “inappropriate and disproportionate”.

The response stated: “We continue to contest the very legitimacy of the breach decisions themselves, we find the scale of proposed penalty to be particularly inappropriate and disproportionate per Ofcom’s own track record. It is notable that cases that involved hate speech and incitement to violence have been subject to substantially lower fines.”

Earlier this year, former UK foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt branded the network as a "weapon of disinformation" for Vladimir Putin, an accusation levied in light of the Salisbury poisonings.

The Drum has previously explored how misinformation takes root and how information warfare is not just a Russian specialty. BBC journalist Christian Hill, a former troop commander in the 3rd Regiment Royal Horse Artillery, shared the difficulties of balancing duty and the truth during his time embedded in the Media Ops unit during the Afghanastan conflict.

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