RT (formerly Russia Today) has said it plans to take Ofcom to court after the UK broadcast regulator found seven of its programmes in breach of broadcasting rules last month.
The Kremlin-backed news channel said today that it is seeking judicial review of Ofcom’s “decisions and processes” over the findings, saying it “firmly believes” none of its programmes breached standards.
The regulator said last month: “Taken together, the seven breaches represent a serious failure of compliance with our broadcasting rules. We have told RT that we are minded to consider imposing a statutory sanction.”
The three programmes concerned in the breach were Crosstalk, News and Sputnik, which is hosted by former MP George Galloway. Coverage related to the poisoning of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury on 4 March 2018.
When Ofcom announced its decision on 20 December, it said it would consider further representations from RT before proceeding to any potential sanction.
One day after Ofcom ruled that RT had breached its impartiality rules seven times, Russia’s media watchdog, Roskomnadzor, opened its own investigation into the BBC.
It said it was examining whether the BBC World News channel and the BBC’s online services in the country are compliant with Russian law, and confirmed the investigation was in response to Ofcom’s ruling.
In a statement today, RT said it “determinedly adheres” to the Ofcom code.
“Ofcom itself has recognised that RT’s compliance record ‘has not been materially out of line with other broadcasters’,” it said.
“None of the seven in-breach decisions against RT concluded that we had disseminated inaccurate information.
“Ofcom’s own analysis acknowledged that the network presented multiple sides in its news coverage and discussion. However, Ofcom proceeded to make adverse findings in a manner contrary to the law.
“Ofcom required that RT devote yet more of its time to presenting the same mainstream viewpoints of other broadcasters, instead of delivering the alternative perspectives our viewers have come to rely on.
“These alternative viewpoints are essential to a well-informed public debate.
“In doing so, the regulator breached a key right of broadcasters, and more importantly of audiences. We are now placing the matter in the hands of the courts.”
An Ofcom spokesperson said: “We will defend our assessment, which followed a thorough investigation under our rules.”
Picture: Reuters/Gleb Garanich