Insights Ofcom revokes RT’s broadcast licence


Ofcom has revoked RT’s licence to broadcast in the UK with immediate effect. Ofcom has taken this action on the basis that it does not consider RT’s licensee, ANO TV Novosti, fit and proper to hold a UK broadcast licence.

Ofcom’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. Ofcom considers 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, which has seen the channel fined £200,000 for previous due impartiality breaches.

In this context, Ofcom launched a separate investigation to determine whether ANO TV Novosti was fit and proper to retain its licence to broadcast. The investigation considered various factors, including RT’s relationship with the Russian Federation. It recognised that RT is funded by the Russian state, which has recently invaded a neighbouring sovereign country. Ofcom also notes 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. Ofcom considers that given these constraints it appears impossible for RT to comply with the due impartiality rules of the Broadcasting Code.

Ofcom recognises that RT is currently off air in the UK, as a result of sanctions imposed by the EU since the invasion of Ukraine commenced. Ofcom says that 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. It also takes seriously the importance of maintaining audiences’ trust and public confidence in the UK’s broadcasting regulatory regime.

Taking all of this into account, as well as Ofcom’s immediate and repeated compliance concerns, the regulator has concluded that it cannot be satisfied that RT can be a responsible broadcaster in the current circumstances. Ofcom has therefore revoked RT’s licence to broadcast with immediate effect. To read Ofcom’s statement in full and for a link to the Decision, click here.