Russia Today (RT), the pro-Kremlin news broadcaster, has received a major financial boost from Russia’s government. According to The Times of London Russia Today will receive 15.38 billion Roubles (about $400 million) for its 2015 budget, and up from last year’s 11.87 billion Roubles.
Other reports suggest that Russia’s parliament is considering a proposal to limit inward investment into Russian media to 20 percent (currently 50 percent) and the new regulations, if approved, will apply to all media, including broadcasting and print-based media. Disney, Condé Nast, Viacom, Axel Springer and others have large stakes in local media.
Russia Today achieved notoriety in March this year when one of its news presenters Liz Wahl, resigned on air telling viewers that she could not be part of an operation that was funded by the Russian government and “which whitewashes the action of Putin” and referring to Russia’s invasion of the Ukraine. She resigned immediately from the RT-America branch of the channel following the transmission.
RT was owned by the now liquidated RIA Novosti news agency, and The Times reports that Russia’s parliament is also putting extra funding into news agency Rossiya Segodnya, which is seeing its budget tripled to 6.48 billion Roubles.
RT has been widely criticised for its pro-Putin comments and Soviet-era propaganda. Its UK-based operation has been twice criticised by the UK’s broadcasting regulator Ofcom for lack of balance in its reporting. Twice in 2102 Ofcom ruled that RT had breached its broadcasting code, and this year has been the subject of another Ofcom investigation over RT’s coverage of the loss of the Malaysian airliner MH17.