Friday, July 26, 2019 3:08 pm
Britain is fining Russian state-funded news network RT 200,000 pounds (250,000 dollars) for “serious failures to comply with (Britain’s) broadcasting rules,” the communications watchdog Ofcom said on Friday.
“RT failed to preserve due impartiality in seven news and current affairs programmes between March 17 and April 26, 2018,” it said in a statement.
Relations between Russia and Britain have plummeted in recent years to their worst condition since the Cold War.
Tensions were exacerbated in 2018 when a former Russian double agent, Sergei Skripal, and his daughter, Yulia, were poisoned in the English city of Salisbury with a chemical weapon that British authorities say came from Russia.
RT’s coverage of the Skripal case and the Syrian civil war, where Russia is supporting the Middle Eastern country’s controversial leadership, were cited by Ofcom as it announced the fine.
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,” Ofcom said.
RT said it was outraged at the fine being imposed without a court order.
“We are outraged that the British media regulator Ofcom has imposed a fine on us without waiting for a court decision to establish whether Ofcom’s claims against RT are legitimate,” RT said in a statement.
According to British law, the communications watchdog does not need a court order to impose a fine. The fine can be challenged in court.
The fine’s amount, RT said, “significantly exceeds fines imposed on other media outlets for such serious violations as hate speech and incitement to violence,” citing fines of 65,000 and 75,000 pounds.
RT is being “subjectively accused”, the network said, suggesting that the British government is attempting to pressure the network’s editorial policy. (dpa/NAN)