UK media watchdog fines RT without court decision

Summary

The UK media regulator Ofcom slapped RT with a £200,000 fine over its alleged breach of due impartiality rules, without waiting for the High Court in London to rule on the legality of the penalty.

Disproof

The report aims to undermine Ofcom's credibility and integrity by claiming that the body issued the fine without giving RT an opportunity to make its case in court.

This is false. The document detailing the sanction decision explicitly states that Ofcom "will not enforce the sanction […] until those proceedings are concluded" (p. 2).

See here for a related debunk.

publication/media

  • Reported in: Issue 159
  • DATE OF PUBLICATION: 26/07/2019
  • Language/target audience: English
  • Country: UK, Russia
  • Keywords: Russia Today (RT), Anti-Russian, Media
  • Outlet: Sputnik News
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The blackout in Venezuela on July 22 was caused by a US spy plane

Venezuelan government says that the electromagnetic attack that caused the blackout on July 22, leaving 15 of the 23 states of the country without electricity, was launched from a US spy plane. This hasn’t been denied by Washington, which says that it was a mission approved by several nations.

Disproof

No evidence is given to support the claim that the July 22 blackout was caused by an electromagnetic attack or that it was launched from a plane. Rather, most experts think that the most likely reason for the frequent blackouts in Venezuela is the poor maintenance of the electric grid of the country.

Nicolás Maduro’s government tried to link the interception of a US surveillance plane EP-3 by a Sukhoi Su-30 of the Venezuelan Air Force on July 19 to the mentioned power outage that took place three days later. RT news programme intentionally misled spectators by claiming that Washington said “the mission was approved by several nations”. It referred to comments to the Associated Press Spanish service made by the head of the US Southern Command, Admiral Craig Faller, who admitted the existence of surveillance flights over Venezuela in close coordination with Brazil and Colombia, but by no means did he mean an operation to cause a blackout in a country.

The US unilaterally withdraw from the INF treaty which is a core agreement for stability and global security

The US unilaterally withdraw from the INF treaty which is a core agreement for stability and global security.

Disproof

Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative about the INF Treaty. Extensive evidence has been provided of Russia's violations of the INF Treaty.

Russia bears primary responsibility for the end of the INF Treaty, because it has produced, tested and deployed the 9M729 missile, which violates the agreement. In July 2014, then-US President Obama officially accused Russia of testing a missile in violation of the INF Treaty, which prohibits the US or Russia from possessing, producing or test-flying ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles with a range  between 500 and 5500 kilometres.

Ofcom fine against RT disproportionate, part of UK’s anti-Russian campaign

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).