March 19, 2022
The CRTC’s British counterpart Ofcom has also banned RT from regulated television in the UK in the wake of Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine.
British laws are similar to Canada’s Broadcasting Act in policing broadcasting content: a presumption against censorship or bans, but with an escape clause.
The delightfully phrased British legalism asks whether the licensee continues to be a “fit and proper person.” This prompts an analysis of whether the impugned broadcasts are “duly impartial,” possibly a tougher standard than Canada’s check on “false or misleading news” or “abusive comment on the grounds of national origin.”
As in Canada, RT ultimately elected not to participate in the legal proceedings.
Ofcom justified its 12-page ruling on several points:
- That RT is funded by the Russian state, meaning President Vladimir Putin, notwithstanding claims of editorial independence. Both Putin and RT’s editor in chief are under international sanctions.
- That Ofcom previously sanctioned RT several times prior to 2018, culminating with a £200,000 fine in 2018.
- That while RT had avoided Ofcom sanction since the 2018 fine, the UK regulator has opened 30 investigations of broadcasts since the beginning of Russian invasion in mid February.
- That the Russian government’s recent enactment of a “false news” law threatening imprisonment of Russian journalists covering the war in Ukraine (including calling it a “war”) means it is likely impossible that RT can meet the Ofcom standard of “duly impartial” broadcasts.