Europe, Russia-Ukraine War

UK revokes Russian news channel RT's broadcast license

Decision 'with immediate effect' comes amid 29 ongoing investigations by UK broadcast regulator Ofcom

Ahmet Gürhan Kartal  | 18.03.2022 - Update : 19.03.2022
UK revokes Russian news channel RT's broadcast license


British broadcast regulator Ofcom announced on Friday that it has revoked Russian news channel RT’s license to broadcast in the UK "with immediate effect." 

"We have done so on the basis that we do not consider RT’s licensee, ANO TV Novosti, fit and proper to hold a UK broadcast licence," a statement from the watchdog said.

"Today’s decision comes amid 29 ongoing investigations by Ofcom into the due impartiality of RT’s news and current affairs coverage of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine," it added.

Ofcom said they considered the "volume and potentially serious nature of the issues raised within such a short period to be of great concern – especially given RT’s compliance history."

A separate investigation "to determine whether ANO TV Novosti is fit and proper to retain its licence to broadcast" has been launched, the statement added.

It said: "This investigation has taken account of a number of factors, including RT’s relationship with the Russian Federation.

"It has recognised that RT is funded by the Russian state, which has recently invaded a neighbouring sovereign country," it said, referring to Russia's war on Ukraine, now in its fourth week.

"We also note new laws in Russia which effectively criminalise any independent journalism that departs from the Russian state’s own news narrative, in particular in relation to the invasion of Ukraine. We consider that given these constraints it appears impossible for RT to comply with the due impartiality rules of our Broadcasting Code in the circumstances."

RT, previously known as Russia Today, has been off air in the UK due to sanctions imposed to Russia "as a result of sanctions imposed by the EU since the invasion of Ukraine commenced."

The UK watchdog also said it takes seriously "the importance, in our democratic society, of a broadcaster’s right to freedom of expression and the audience’s right to receive information and ideas without undue interference."

"We also take seriously the importance of maintaining audiences’ trust and public confidence in the UK’s broadcasting regulatory regime."

However, Ofcom said that they have "concluded that we cannot be satisfied that RT can be a responsible broadcaster in the current circumstances. Ofcom is therefore revoking RT’s licence to broadcast with immediate effect."

RT was previously fined for £200,000 ($263,000) impartiality breaches.

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