18 July 2022

Ofcom finds RT in breach of due impartiality rules

Ofcom has today found that RT’s news and current affairs coverage in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine breached due impartiality rules on 29 occasions in four days (PDF, 3.5 MB).

When dealing with major matters such as wars or areas of conflict (in these cases, specifically the ongoing conflict in the Donbas region), all Ofcom licensees must comply with the special impartiality requirements in our Broadcasting 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.

News programmes must be able to report on controversial issues and take a position on those issues, even if that position is highly critical. But due impartiality requirements in broadcasting are particularly important in situations where events are changing quickly and potentially harmful disinformation is available online.

Our investigations

We launched 29 investigations into RT following complaints from viewers and Ofcom’s own monitoring of the channel. Our investigations looked at the due impartiality of 15 RT News bulletins on 27 February 2022, 12 on 1 March 2022, and one on 2 March 2022 as well as the documentary Donbass Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow which was repeated across 1 and 2 March 2022.

In each case, we found that RT’s coverage failed to preserve due impartiality in relation to the conflict in the Donbas region of Ukraine. Ofcom considers that these breaches were serious and repeated, and we are minded to consider them for the imposition of a statutory sanction.

Licence revocation

RT is no longer broadcasting in the UK. On 18 March 2022, Ofcom revoked RT’s broadcast licence on the basis that we did not consider RT’s licensee, ANO TV Novosti, fit and proper to hold it.

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