Britain’s broadcasting standards watchdog on Wednesday opened seven impartiality probes concerning Russia’s RT news channel, noting “a significant increase” in programs warranting investigation since the poisoning of a former Russian spy in March.
“Ofcom has today opened seven new investigations into the due impartiality of news and current affairs programs on the RT news channel,” the regulator said in a statement.
Ofcom said that TV Novosti, the holder of RT’s UK broadcast licenses, which is financed from the budget of the Russian Federation, had an overall compliance record not “materially out of line with other broadcasters.”
“However, since the events in Salisbury, we have observed a significant increase in the number of programs on the RT service that we consider warrant investigation as potential breaches of the Ofcom Broadcasting Code,” it added.
Former double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were found slumped on a bench in the English cityof Salisbury last month, sparking a bitter diplomatic crisis between Moscow and London, who say a nerve agent developed in Russia was used on the pair.
Russia strongly denies involvement in the attack, which sparked the expulsions of diplomats from all sides. RT provides a Russian perspective on British and global news and has an average audience of 3,400 viewers at any given point during the day.
The investigations center on programs broadcast between March 17 and April 16, following the March 4 attack.
Ofcom has the power to impose financial penalties, or even revoke the license to broadcast.