UK media regulator Ofcom has fined Russian state-backed international news channel RT £200,000 for serious failures and failing to comply with its rules.
Ofcom said that its investigation found that RT failed to preserve due impartiality in seven news and current affairs programmes between 17th March and 26th April 2018.
Ofcom has strict rules in place requiring broadcast news to be presented with due impartiality, which applies to all broadcasters licensed to broadcast in the United Kingdom irrespective of where they are headquartered or broadcast from.
In a statement, Ofcom said; “Taken together, these breaches represented serious and repeated failures of compliance with our rules. We were particularly concerned by the frequency of RT’s rule-breaking over a relatively short period of time.
“The programmes were mostly in relation to major matters of political controversy and current public policy – namely the UK Government’s response to the events in Salisbury, and the Syrian conflict.”
As a result of the breach, Ofcom have imposed a financial penalty of £200,000 and will force RT to broadcast publicly a summary of its findings.
A spokesperson for Ofcom added; “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.
“Ofcom will await the conclusion of RT’s application for judicial review of our breach decisions before enforcing the sanction.”
RT has already been granted a judicial review in respect of Ofcom’s breachg decisions, and it is expected that a full hearing in respect of the review will be held towards the end of 2019. Ofcom has previously indicated that it intends to defend the review, will not enforce this sanction until legal proceedings regarding the Breach Decisions have been concluded.