Disinfo: Ofcom fine against RT disproportionate, part of UK's anti-Russian campaign

Summary

By fining RT for its alleged breach of due impartiality rules, UK media regulator Ofcom is restricting the activities of Russian media for their willingness to cover controversial issues, and is thus complicit in the UK government’s ongoing anti-Russian campaign. The £200,000 fine is disproportionate compared with penalties previously imposed on other outlets, even those found broadcasting hate speech and inciting violence.

Disproof

Recurring disinformation claim painting UK institutions as inherently Russophobic and biased toward mainstream media outlets. More broadly, the report advances the meta-narrative stating that provision of "alternative viewpoints" is the sole raison d'etre of Moscow's media assets abroad. Read EUvsDisinfo analysis of this deceptive claim here. Contrary to the tone of the article, Ofcom does not do the UK government's bidding; it is an independent watchdog funded by companies it regulates. Accordingly, the type and severity of the penalty imposed on RT was determined by Ofcom's publicly available penalty guidelines (pp. 2-3), as well as precedents cited in the report accompanying the sanction decision (pp. 30-36). The latter document states that one factor contributing to the size of the fine included RT's commission of "multiple breaches of due impartiality rules, which occur[ed] during a concentrated period of time" (p. 8). Indeed, the seven breaches committed in the space of one month (p. 3) account for nearly half of RT's due impartiality violations since 2012 (ibid., p. 10). Ofcom's report also deals with the claim that the fine is disproportionate when compared to penalties previously imposed on other channels. The decisions cited by RT are "over five years old and were decided before" the current edition of penalty guidelines, and were made against channels "with less access to funding […] and in some cases much better compliance records than RT" (p. 20). See here for background information about this case.

publication/media

  • Reported in: Issue 159
  • DATE OF PUBLICATION: 26/07/2019
  • Language/target audience: English
  • Country: UK, Russia
  • Keywords: Anti-Russian, Propaganda, Media, Russophobia
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Bulgarians have not seen any significant benefits from membership of the EU and NATO

Bulgarians have not seen any significant benefits from EU membership. Furthermore, they benefited even less from joining NATO.

Disproof

These claims are false. Bulgaria joined the European Union in 2007; as a result, its GDP, exports, average annual wages, as well as a share of products created in their economies by the industrial sector increased. In 2006, before joining the European Union, Bulgaria’s GDP was estimated at USD 34.4 billion; in 2016, this figure increased to USD 52.4 billion. In 2006, the GDP per capita was equal to USD 6 107.71 and in 2016 it increased to USD 7 926. European countries account for 78% of Bulgarian exports. Find out more about how Bulgaria benefits from EU funding. In addition, the EU accession process helps the countries concerned build their capacity to adopt and implement EU law, as well as European and international standards. For similar disinformation cases about Bulgarian membership of the EU see here and here. Regarding the NATO claim, all the countries of Central and Eastern Europe which have joined NATO over the past decade have enjoyed peace, security and cooperation with their neighbours since then, Bulgaria included.

In the Baltic States Russophobia and neo-Nazism are established at the state level

In the Baltic States Russophobia is established at the state level. The Baltic States propagate neo-Nazi ideas, persecute human rights defenders, close down media outlets. All of this resembles pre-war Nazi Germany.

Disproof

Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative about Russophobia and Nazism in the Baltic countries. The disinformation message appeared after Latvia blocked the access to the Baltnews portal. The decision citing EU sanctions to Russia was made after Latvian ministry of foreign affairs indicated that the portal belongs to the Rossiya Segodnya news agency, which is headed by Dmitry Kiselyov, who is on the EU’s list of sanctioned persons. Other Baltic States also recognize Baltnews portals as Russia's state financed propaganda media outlets. (See National Threat Assessment 2017 by the Lithuanian State Security Department). See earlier disinformation cases alleging that the Baltic states openly glorify Nazism and that Russophobia is the main export of Lithuania.

The strategic aim of the UK Conservative party is Russia's collapse

Boris Johnson will hardly become Russia’s friend because the Conservative Party has made a strategic bet, that if something should crumble in the East, they would become the masters. Britain will continue to spare no expense to rock the the political situation in Russia and around it.

Disproof

Conspiracy theory consistent with a recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative about the West encircling Russia. See similar disinformation cases about Western "Great Turan" doctrine aimed at creating a ring of unfriendly states along Russia's southern border, anti-Russian plan for an "Anaconda ring", Western attempts to break Russia up into a few nominally independent states.