UK regulator says Russian broadcaster RT broke its rules

RT faces potential penalties after Britain’s media regulator ruled that its coverage of the Skripal poisonings breached impartiality rules.

Ofcom said in a statement Thursday that the Russian broadcaster failed to preserve “due impartiality” in seven programs that aired after the poisoning of former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal.

“The seven breaches represent a serious failure of compliance with our broadcasting rules,” the regulator said.

Ofcom said that RT broke rules that require broadcasters to give “due weight” to a wide range of opinions when covering major political controversies.

RT now faces potential sanctions, Ofcom said. The broadcaster could be fined or even have its license revoked.

The broadcaster said in a statement that it was “extremely disappointed” by the decision.

“We operate under rules outlined by the regulator, and always strive to abide by them. It appears Ofcom has failed to fully take on-board what we said in response to its investigations,” it said.

The broadcaster said it would review the findings before deciding how to respond.

RT had argued that its mission was “to make available an alternative point of view on world events, especially Russia-related ones.”

The Russian government responded on Friday. The country’s communications regulator, Roskomnadzor, said it would investigate whether the BBC World News TV channel had complied with Russian rules.

The regulator said its investigation was the result of Ofcom’s ruling.

Skripal and his daughter were poisoned by the nerve agent Novichok in what the British authorities said was an attack conducted by agents of the Russian military intelligence service, known as the GRU.

RT is owned by Russian state-owned news agency RIA Novosti. RT’s UK broadcast licenses were granted to the company’s television division, ANO TV Novosti.

The channel has a very small viewership in the United Kingdom, but members of parliament have frequently appeared on the channel.