(PresidentialWire.com)- UK Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries is calling on the government’s independent media watchdog Ofcom to review the Russia Today (RT) news channel’s broadcasts in the UK.
Dorries contends that RT is “demonstrably part of Russia’s global disinformation campaign” during the ongoing crisis in Ukraine. She said the UK needs to limit Russia’s ability to spread its propaganda.
Russia’s foreign ministry said it would retaliate against British journalists if the UK restricts Russian media.
The Kremlin-backed news outlet, which is available to millions of homes in the UK, has accused members of the British government of interfering in Ofcom which is supposed to be free from political pressure.
The day before Russia invaded Ukraine, Labor leader Sir Keir Starmer called RT the “personal propaganda tool” of Vladimir Putin and demanded Prime Minister Boris Johnson review RT’s license to broadcast in the UK.
Prime Minister Johnson reportedly told Nadine Dorries that he has already asked Ofcom to review the matter. However, Johnson added, the UK believes in free speech, and Ofcom, not politicians, should be the one to decide which media organizations would be banned.
In her letter to Ofcom, Dorries expressed concern that RT would try to spread “harmful disinformation” about the ongoing events in Ukraine.
Ofcom chief Dame Melanie Dawes confirmed that the media regulator is “keeping the situation under close review.” Dawes said in response to Dorries’ letter that Ofcom is stepping up its oversight of the Ukraine/Russia coverage “by broadcasters in the UK.”
Dawes added that Ofcom “will not hesitate to take swift actions where necessary.”
In 2019, Ofcom fined Russia Today £200,000 for “a serious breach” of impartiality rules over its reporting of the conflict in Syria as well as the Novichok poisonings in Salisbury in 2018.
At the time, RT said Ofcom’s decision was “disproportionate interference” with the network’s right to free expression.
Last Wednesday, RT deputy editor-in-chief Anna Belkina sarcastically praised British politicians for dropping their “hypocritical disguise” and openly advocating for interfering with what is supposed to be an independent watchdog.