UK Media Regulator Opens 15 Investigations into RT News Channel

Office of Communications (Ofcom), the media regulator in the United Kingdom, launched 15 separate investigations into Russian state-backed news channel RT’s coverage of the war in Ukraine.

Ofcom will examine if the English-language channel, formerly known as Russia Today, has broken impartiality rules.

Ofcom said that it observed a “significant increase” in the number of programs that warrant investigation under its broadcasting code.

The channel has repeatedly echoed Russian President Vladimir Putin’s narrative of the invasion, which it has consistently reported as a “special military operation.”

“When dealing with major matters such as the crisis in the Ukraine, all Ofcom licensees must comply with the special impartiality requirements in our Code. These rules require broadcasters to take additional steps to preserve due impartiality – namely by including and giving due weight to a wide range of significant views,” Ofcom said.

The investigation relates to 15 editions of the hourly News program broadcast on RT on Feb. 27 between 05:00 and 19:00 GMT, Ofcom said.

Ofcom also said the investigations will be expedited “given the severity and urgency of the current crisis.”

On Feb. 27, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson asked Ofcom to review RT’s UK broadcasts.

Ofcom is operationally independent from the government, but ministers appoint its leadership.

Over the weekend, the European Union banned RT, as well as Sputnik and their subsidiaries, in an attempt to stop them from spreading “their lies to justify Putin’s war and to sow division in our Union.”

“We are developing tools to ban their toxic and harmful disinformation in Europe,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said.

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