Ofcom on RT

As reported in its latest bulletin (PDF), the UK media regulator Ofcom has found RT (formerly Russia Today) in violation of rule 5.5 of the 2003 Communications Act, which requires “due impartiality on matters of political or industrial controversy.” The first of the offending programs to be aired was The Truthseeker: Genocide of Eastern Ukraine on July 13-14, 2014 (p. 5-21). It was only 14 minutes long according to Ofcom – 14 minutes of uninterrupted delirium, judging by the quotes amply provided by the regulator. It’s the Russian First Channel translated into English at the highest fever pitch of summer 2014:

Bombing the wheat fields to make sure there’s famine. Kiev’s leaders repeat Hitler’s genocidal oath. And Ukraine’s kids taught to occupy Western Europe.

The other program in breach of rule 5.5 (p. 49-60) was more subtle by orders of magnitude, mostly featuring interviews with refugees from Donbass to Russia. Supposing all of them were genuine, it’s understandable that people fleeing a war zone would sometimes only blame one side for their suffering. Nevertheless reporters should allowed for a rebuttal from the side accused of wrongdoing, which the RT limited to a six-second caption. Predictably, Ofcom did not agree it was fair play.

Better yet, in March 2014, RT accused the BBC of fabricating a story from Syria and of habitual lying (p. 22-48, 89-124). Coming from RT, the blackest pot in the battery, it must be a severe case of projection. I cannot claim that faking footage is below the BBC (regrettably), but having RT as the chief accuser effectively gets the BBC off the hook. If you’re serious about proving the BBC’s dishonesty, don’t try it under the RT logo, and don’t invite George Galloway as an “expert.”


  1. As I think I’ve said before, the only people I know who watch RT regard it as a comedy channel. The more money Putin wastes on it the better.

    • My impression is RT was once on par with Al-Jazeera or Fox News in terms of bias but went off the rails some time in 2013 or 2014. There was an amusing piece at The Daily Beast last month (http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/09/17/putin-s-propaganda-tv-lies-about-ratings.html) about a rival agency hungry for state funds ripping into RT’s claims of a multi-million audience. There is still a niche to be filled by a genuinely independent, skeptically-minded channel but RT could only pass for such if it appeared to be equally critical of Putin and his adversaries. The Kremlin seems to disagree that the channel’s influence would be greatest if it made a consistent effort to appear unbiased.

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