Logo of the TV channel RT (Russia Today) on the microphone of the television camera.

Supreme Court will not hear RT appeal against Ofcom decisions on impartiality failings

Published: 2 September 2022
Last updated: 16 March 2023

The Supreme Court has confirmed it will not hear an appeal from RT against Ofcom’s decisions finding serious and repeated breaches by RT of our broadcasting rules.

In 2019, we fined RT £200,000 after we found in 2018 it repeatedly failed to preserve due impartiality in seven news and current affairs programmes broadcast in March and April 2018.

These programmes were mostly related to major matters of political controversy and public policy – namely the UK Government’s response to the 2018 Salisbury poisonings, and conflict in Syria.

RT challenged Ofcom’s decisions in the High Court and the Court of Appeal  and both Courts rejected RT’s challenges on all grounds. RT sought permission to bring an appeal to the Supreme Court, but the Supreme Court has  confirmed it has refused RT’s request to appeal    .

Trust in news and current affairs has never been more important, and RT’s failures to preserve due impartiality were serious and repeated.

We welcome the Supreme Court's refusal to hear RT's appeal against our decisions, which were a fair and proportionate response to its failings, taking full account of the right to freedom of expression.

Kevin Bakhurst, Ofcom Group Director, Broadcasting and Online Content

What is due impartiality?

‘Due’ means adequate or appropriate to the subject and nature of the programme. So ‘due impartiality’ does not mean an equal division of time has to be given to every view, or that every argument and every facet of every argument has to be represented.

The approach to due impartiality may vary according to the nature of the subject, the type of programme and channel, the likely expectation of the audience as to content, and the extent to which the content and approach is signalled to the audience. Context is important.

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