OFCOM: ‘Russia Today in serious breach’
September 22, 2015
By Chris Forrester
UK regulator Ofcom has come down heavily on Russia Today (RT and RT Europe) over a series of 14-minute transmissions called ‘The Truthseekers:Genocide of Eastern Ukraine’ which RT broadcast in July. Ofcom stated that RT had made a “serious breach of [the Ofcom] codes”.
Ofcom stated that the news broadcaster made no attempt to provide balance and impartiality and that RT was in breach of its guidelines. TV Novosti, which backs the Russia Today family of channels, told Ofcom that it had, following complaints, removed and “terminated” the programme, including taking it down from its websites.
Ofcom, in its 21-page report and ruling, stated: “Ofcom acknowledged the importance attached to freedom of expression in the broadcasting environment, as contained in Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights (“ECHR”). This provides for the broadcaster’s and audience’s right to freedom of expression, which encompasses the right to hold opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas without undue interference by public authority.”
Unfortunately, there was more. Another RT programme in its Truthseeker series (“Media staged Syria chem attack” and broadcast back in March also fell short of Ofcom’s rules. Somewhat cheekily RT’s on air voiceover blamed the BBC of “staging chemical weapons attack” and which prompted the BBC to make a robust complaint to Ofcom.
Ofcom again decided that RT was in breach of the Ofcom codes. The BBC’s complaint against RT was upheld.
The grumbles extended to another RT show, “Ukraine’s Refugees” broadcast over a number of days in July, and again determined that RT did not preserve due impartiality and was in breach.
RT in a statement said it was disappointed by Ofcom’s rulings. “The “in-breach” findings concern two episodes of a commentary show, one of which did not air in the UK, and a documentary about refugees in eastern Ukraine, which was based on eyewitness testimonies,” said Margarita Simonyan, RT’s editor in chief.