Russia Today shut down in UK as Ofcom strips Kremlin-backed TV channel's licence

Russia Today has been shutdown in the UK after broadcasting watchdog Ofcom withdrew the organisations licence.

Ofcom wrote: “Following an independent regulatory process, we have today found that RT is not fit and proper to hold a licence in the UK. As a result we have revoked RT’s UK broadcasting licence.”

This comes amid 29 separate ongoing investigations by Ofcom into the due impartiality of RT’s news and current affairs coverage of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

They added that the “volume and potentially serious nature” of the issues raised were of “great concern”.

The channel is backed by the Russian state and has long come under criticism for pro-Kremlin line it has taken on coverage of events.

It especially came under fire during the Salisbury Poisonings, where it parroted the Moscow line.

Ofcom's investigation took a number of factors into account including the station's relationship with the Russian Federation.

They noted that alongside its state funding, laws in Russia effectively outlawed any independent media that departs from the Russian state's narrative around its invasion of Ukraine.

It was this, and concerns about the channel's ownership that led to its ban, not its reporting on Ukraine.

However, the company can continue to publish online, where it often reaches a larger audience than its TV channel.

They said that: "We consider that given these constraints it appears impossible for RT to comply with the due impartiality rules of our Broadcasting Code in the circumstances.

"We recognise that RT is currently off air in the UK, as a result of sanctions imposed by the EU since the invasion of Ukraine commenced.

"We take 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.

"We also take seriously the importance of maintaining audiences’ trust and public confidence in the UK’s broadcasting regulatory regime.

Russia Today shut down in UK as Ofcom strips Kremlin-backed TV channel's licence

Taking all of this into account, as well as our immediate and repeated compliance concerns, we have concluded that we cannot be satisfied that RT can be a responsible broadcaster in the current circumstances.

"Ofcom is therefore revoking RT’s licence to broadcast with immediate effect."

RT's deputy editor, Anna Belkina, said Ofcom's decision to suspend the broadcaster's UK licence has "robbed" the British public of access to information.

In a statement, she said: "Ofcom has shown the UK public, and the regulatory community internationally, that, despite a well-constructed facade of independence, it is nothing more than a tool of government, bending to its media-suppressing will.

"By ignoring RT's completely clean record of four consecutive years and stating purely political reasons tied directly to the situation in Ukraine and yet completely unassociated to RT's operations, structure, management or editorial output, Ofcom has falsely judged RT to not be 'fit and proper' and in doing so robbed the UK public of access to information."

Previously, access to the TV network had been affected by an EU ban two weeks ago.

The bloc sanctioned satellites which provided the RT feed to Sky, Freesat and Freeview, effectively knocking it off the air.

At the time, RT said that "the facade of free press in Europe has finally crumbled".

UK Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries, had described the channel as "Putin's polluting propaganda machine", and said she hoped it would not return to UK screens.

There now concerns that the BBC may see its operations limited in Russia in a retaliation move.

However, not all at the new channel were happy backing Putin's line about the country's invasion of Ukraine.

The i reported that RT was hit by several resignations in the hours after the Russia's invasion of Ukraine on February 24.

They reported that five employees based in Moscow and London quit that station, including broadcast journalists and news producers.

In addition, a TV correspondent, Shadia Edwards-Dashti, was contacted to go live at 6am on Thursday to cover the invasion but refused and the i reports quite with "immediate effect".

Several others followed by midday.

Read More

Read More