Ofcom warns Russia Today over licence following spy claims

Catherine Neilan
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Ofcom has told Russia Today that if the UK government confirms Moscow was behind the attack on Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia it may prompt the watchdog to consider its licence.

Ofcom today wrote to Ano TV Novosti, holder of Russia Today's UK broadcast licences, to say that if it was determined that there had been "unlawful use of force by the Russian state against the UK, we would consider this relevant to our ongoing duty to be satisfied that RT is fit and proper".

Russia Today is funded by the Russian Federation, and during Theresa May's update to the Commons yesterday there were calls for its licence to be revoked.

"As the independent UK broadcasting regulator, Ofcom has an ongoing duty to be satisfied that broadcast licensees remain fit and proper to hold their licences," the watchdog explained.

"The letter to RT said that we would carry out our independent fit and proper assessment on an expedited basis, and we would write to RT again shortly setting out details of our process."

​​In a statement published after the Commons debate yesterday afternoon, Russia Today said it was "regrettable" that it had been "sacrificed as a political pawn, in one fell swoop doing away with any concept of press freedom in the UK".

Today it added: “We disagree with the position taken by Ofcom; our broadcasting has in no way changed this week, from any other week and continues to adhere to all standards.

"By linking RT to unrelated matters, Ofcom is conflating its role as a broadcasting regulator with matters of state. RT remains a valuable voice in the UK news landscape, covering vital yet neglected stories and voices, including those of the many MPs and other UK public figures who have been shut out of public discourse by the mainstream media.”

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