Ofcom investigates RT over allegations of ‘anti-western’ bias

Ofcom investigates RT over allegations of 'anti-western' bias

5 March 2015
Text Meng-Hao Lee

Russia’s Kremlin-backed news channel RT (formerly Russia Today) is facing new investigation by British media regulator Ofcom over accusations of featuring anti-western views in a late-night discussion on Ukraine. According to the Guardian, RT’s programme Crosstalk, aired in December last year, prompted a complaint over the “biased” discussion between the presenter and three studio guests.

“Ofcom has launched an investigation into whether this programme about the situation in Ukraine, which included anti-western comments, was duly impartial.” an Ofcom spokesman said.

It is the sixth ongoing investigation into RT by Ofcom and the third over the network’s coverage of events in Ukraine. RT was accused of biased coverage over the Ukraine crisis and was threatened with statutory sanctions last November after breaching broadcasting regulations on impartiality. The channel’s programme The Truthseeker: Genocide in Ukraine, which aired last July, and its documentary Ukraine’s Refugees are also under inspection.

“Ofcom rules prohibit us from elaborating on the details of the inquiry,” a spokesperson for RT said, responding to the new investigation. “The debate show Crosstalk has always engaged viewers precisely by giving a platform to the voices and opinions that otherwise could rarely be found in the mainstream discourse. The RT program, which received only a single viewer complaint, figures in just one of the 11 new cases that will be looked into by Ofcom. The list includes several UK channels, such as Channel 4, which has generated more than 5,000 complaints with its UKIP documentary.”

After broadcasting in the UK for nine years, the network launched a dedicated UK channel last year, and has since drawn media attention for its controversial coverage of Ukraine since the Maidan protests last year.

RT‘s coverage of the crash of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 in Ukraine last year was also assessed by Ofcom, but no biased reporting and breach of standards was found.