Russian state-backed news channel RT has had its licence to broadcast in the UK revoked “with immediate effect” by media regulator Ofcom.
The watchdog said RT’s parent body ANO TV Novosti was not “fit and proper to hold a UK broadcast licence”.
RT’s coverage of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has been under investigation by Ofcom, and the channel had already disappeared from UK screens.
RT called Ofcom “a tool of the government”.
The channel became unavailable on all UK broadcast platforms earlier this month as a result of a ban imposed by the European Union.
Although the UK is no longer in the EU, the bloc applied sanctions to satellite companies in Luxembourg and France, which provided the RT feed to Sky, Freesat and Freeview in the UK.
‘Impossible to be impartial’
UK Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries, who has described the channel as “Putin’s polluting propaganda machine”, said at the time she hoped it would not return to UK screens.
In recent weeks, Ofcom has launched 29 investigations into the “due impartiality of RT’s news and current affairs coverage” of the invasion of Ukraine.
On Friday, Ofcom said its investigation took account of factors including:
RT’s relationship with the Russian Federation – Ofcom said RT is funded by the Russian state, which has recently invaded a neighbouring sovereign country
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
“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,” Ofcom’s statement added.
Chief executive Dame Melanie Dawes said: “Freedom of expression is something we guard fiercely in this country, and the bar for action on broadcasters is rightly set very high.”
RT deputy editor-in-chief Anna Belkina said Ofcom had “robbed the UK public of access to information”.
“What we have witnessed over the last few days, be it comments from the President of the EU Commission or from PM Boris Johnson, is that none of them had pointed to a single grain of evidence that what RT has reported over these days, and continues to report, is not true.
“Instead, what they have said is that what RT brings to its audience is not allowed in their supposedly free media environment. When it comes to the Russian voice, or just a different perspective from theirs, it is simply not allowed to exist.”