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UK regulator launches seven investigations into Kremlin-backed broadcaster RT

The investigations have been launched on the back of the Salisbury nerve agent attack in March.

Image: SIPA USA/PA Images

BRITISH BROADCASTING WATCHDOG Ofcom has launched seven investigations into the impartiality of news and current affairs programmes on the RT news channel, in the wake of the Salisbury nerve agent attack.

Ofcom said that, until recently, RT producer TV Novosti’s overall compliance record had not been out of line with other broadcasters.

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

British Prime Minister Theresa May has said that Russia was “highly likely” to be behind the attack on 4 March, which saw the poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia.

However, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has insisted that “Russia is not guilty”.

Yulia Skripal has since been discharged from hospital while Sergei Skripal, 66, remains in hospital, though he is no longer in a critical condition.

Ofcom crackdown

On 12 March, following the use of a nerve agent in Salisbury, Ofcom said that it would consider the implications of these events for the broadcast licences for RT and RT Europe.

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Russia has previously said that it will ban all British media from its country if UK authorities banned the Kremlin-backed RT broadcaster as a result of the Salisbury attack.

In its statement today, Ofcom said: “We will announce the outcome of these investigations as soon as possible. In relation to our fit and proper duty, we will consider all new evidence, including the outcome of these investigations and the future conduct of the licence.”

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