British Media Regulator Probing RT’s Impartiality After Salisbury Poisoning

Artist Rendition of Barrel with Poison Symbol on It, Oozing Green Material

(Article ©2018 RFE/RL, Inc., Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty – rferl.org – April 18, 2018 – also appeared at rferl.org/a/british-media-regulator-probing-rt-s-impartiality-after-salisbury-poisoning/29174828.html)

Britain’s media watchdog has started probing whether Russian news channel RT broke impartiality rules in its programs after a former Russian double agent and his daughter were poisoned in the English city of Salisbury last month.

Media regulator Ofcom warned on April 18 that TV Novosti, the company which produces RT, could lose its British broadcasting rights if it failed its “fit-and-proper” test.

“Until recently, TV Novosti’s overall compliance record has not been materially out of line with other broadcasters,” Ofcom said in a statement on April 18.

“However, since the events in Salisbury, we have observed a significant increase in the number of programs on the RT service that warrant investigation as potential breaches of the Ofcom Broadcasting Code.

“Ofcom has today opened seven new investigations into the due impartiality of news and current affairs programs on the RT news channel,” the regulator said.

Britain blames Russia for the March 4 poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal with a nerve agent — a charge that Moscow denies.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry has warned that British media outlets will be forced to close Russian operations if Britain expels RT, which used to be known as Russia Today.

Reuters quoted a spokeswoman for state-supported RT as saying that the channel’s “editorial approach has not changed since the events in Salisbury, and we will be directly addressing this matter with the regulator.”

“We are pleased to see that Ofcom has acknowledged RT’s compliance record has been in line with other broadcasters,” Anna Belkina said in an e-mail, according to Reuters.

Based on reporting by Reuters and AFP