around the world

Russia promised to expel the British media in case of RT ban, although this threat is exaggerated

Does Britain really want to ban RT

In the British parliament, now, no bills are being considered that could limit the work of RT. The key in the dispute was the  Prime Minister Theresa May about the possible involvement of Russia in poisoning the former spy defector Sergei Skripal. May stressed that the future sanctions will be directed against the Russian authorities, and not ordinary citizens of Russia.

RT also drew attention to calls to limit the work of the channel from “several” MPs from the Labor Party of Great Britain during the report of Theresa May. At that meeting, there were only two such statements.

Stephen Doughty asked to “review” the license of the channel and stop broadcasting it in the parliament. Chris Bryant asked the Prime Minister whether “we can already ban the broadcast of RT propaganda in this country.” May did not respond, but promised “to consider all possible measures . 

The most serious statement belongs to the independent British media controller Ofcom, who, against the background of the speech, May announced a possible revision of the terms of the RT license. At the same time, Ofcom did not directly mention a possible ban on the channel. The company stressed: it will take some measures against RT, if Britain proves Russia’s guilt in the poisoning of Skripal.

Also in the UK, they began to criticize well-known people in the country for their work on RT. The head of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the British Parliament, Tom Tugendhat, on the BBC criticized the former Prime Minister of Scotland, Alex Salmond. From MPs went to the head coach of Manchester United Jose Mourinho, who will act as channel expert at the World Cup. Neither one nor the other has refused to cooperate with the channel.

Photo from the RT archive
Photo from the RT archive

RT works in London through the legal entity ANO TV News. Ofcom at one time accused the Russian TV channel of biased reporting from Ukraine and Syria, and also revealed dozens of violations of the broadcasting code. In 2016, the British National Westminster Bank refused to RT in the maintenance of accounts.

In response to the claims of the regulator, RT insisted that “it makes a valuable contribution to enriching the news space” of the UK and raises “ignored topics”. The Russian TV channel does not enjoy great popularity in the country. According to the British Broadcasting Research Bureau (BARB), for the week from 26 to March 4, RT watched 558 thousand people (share 0.93%). For comparison: BBC 1 has 45 million people (74.83%). The research commissioned by the channel says that it is watched weekly by 36 million viewers in 10 European countries, in some RT even rivals the BBC.

How did Russia’s “mirror response” come about?

Editor-in-chief Margarita Simonyan was one of the first to comment on the need to respond to Great Britain. In the Telegram channel, she suggested that Russia would “mirror” in the event of a cancellation of the broadcasting license.

On the same day, March 13, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova, in the program “60 Minutes” on the “Russia” TV channel, talked about possible measures in response to the “provocation” because of the case of Skripal.

Zakharova made a statement at the request of a VGTRK journalist, who asked if the BBC would close in Russia if “RT were shut down” (on video from 12:25). The representative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs referred to the “huge list” of probable sanctions against Russia, but official London did not mention in this context a possible closure of RT. At the same time, The Telegraph reported on the development of a version of the “Magnitsky list”, which involves the refusal to issue visas and freeze the assets of Russians. In similar to the “law Magnitsky” edits adopted in February 2017, there was no surname list.

Now listed a huge list of experts and people close to the official London measures that can take. It will be for each relevant department to decide – how to react if they accept it all.

I can say that it concerns journalists. I can tell you at once: no British mass media in our country will work if they close RT.

Maria Zakharova
representative of the Russian Foreign Ministry

Roskomnadzor also announced the possible deprivation of the RT license for broadcasting as a real consequence of the case of Skripal.

In the event that the British regulator deprives the broadcasting license in the UK of the Russian RT television channel, Roskomnadzor immediately takes exhaustive mirror measures against the British media working in the Russian media space.

Alexander Zharov
Head of Roskomnadzor

In the morning of March 14, the deadline for the ultimatum, which Teresa May designated. Russia has not responded to Britain’s demand to explain the poisoning of Skripal. In Russia, they wait for samples of a chemical substance and start a joint investigation.

Back to top button