RT News, otherwise known as Russia Today, is facing an outright ban from broadcasting in Britain and potentially the rest of the world following Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.
Censorship of RT has long been in the works and was being discussed prior to the escalation of tensions, with UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries asking British regulator Ofcom to consider banning RT outright.
Dorries charged that “RT is demonstrably part of Russia’s global disinformation campaign, as its own editor-in-chief has made clear in the past, who has called the network an ‘information weapon’ of the Russian state.”
Ofcom responded by stating “We are expediting complaints in this area as a matter of urgency and we will not hesitate to take swift action where necessary.”
The statement further noted “It is acceptable for broadcasters to present issues from a particular perspective provided that alternative views and opinions are also represented,” adding “It would not be acceptable for any of our licensees to broadcast one-sided propaganda.”
RT’s deputy editor-in-chief and head of communications, Anna Belkina responded to attempts to shut down RT, saying “Even in the face of undue political pressure, [Ofcom] has continuously found RT to be in line with other UK broadcasters, without a single breach of broadcasting code to be found in the last four years – not something that can be said about many other channels in the country.”
Earlier this week, “opposition” Labour leader Keir Starmer called for a total ban on RT in the UK and the rest of the world calling the network a key part of “Putin’s campaign of misinformation.”
“Russia Today should be prevented from broadcasting its propaganda around the world,” Starmer proclaimed.
Boris Johnson responded to the issue in parliament, noting “We live in a country that believes in free speech, and I think it’s important that we should leave it up to Ofcom rather than to politicians to decide which media organisations to ban – that’s what Russia does.”
Other political figures in the UK have slammed the labelling of RT as Russian propaganda. Former British diplomat Peter Ford called the censorship efforts “appalling,” charging the “The [British] government demands one narrative, not just on Ukraine, but all international affairs,” further accusing British media of being “totally one-sided” on Ukraine coverage.
The former ambassador also claimed the government is “pretending to pass the buck to Ofcom,” asserting that the regulator is a “creature of the British state, staffed by figures of the British state.”
RT has been targeted for censorship ever since it began broadcasting in Britain, and along with another state funded network, Sputnik News, was banned from attending a global conference on media freedom in London in 2019 because of their “active role in spreading disinformation” according to the UK foreign office.
Sputnik News took the decision to shut down its British operations last year after broadcasting in the country for five years.
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