Ofcom has launched a total of 15 new investigations into the impartiality of news programmes on the RT (Russia Today) talk station.
In a statement, the UK media regulator said it had seen a significant increase in the number of programmes that warrant investigation under its Broadcasting Code. The current crisis in Ukraine means broadcasters have to take additional steps to preserve due impartiality – and take in a wide range of significant views.
Last week it emerged that Ofcom had been asked by Culture Secretary Nadine Dorres to investigate RT’s conduct.
The investigations relate to 15 editions of the hourly News programme broadcast on RT on 27 February 2022 between 05:00 and 19:00 inclusive. Ofcom says the investigation will be expedited, given the severity and urgency of the current crisis.
“Given the scale and gravity of the crisis in Ukraine, audiences expect to be able to trust and rely on duly impartial broadcast news,” said Dame Melanie Dawes, Ofcom’s Chief Executive. “Supporting a fair and free media is central to Ofcom’s work. We take this responsibility – and our duty to protect audiences and uphold trust in the news – extremely seriously. Freedom of expression is a cornerstone of our approach and fundamental to our democracy.”
The EU is drawing up plans to ban the retransmission of RT, while a number of individual networks have already pulled the plug themselves.
Ofcom is expecting full cooperation from RT.