The Kremlin-backed channel has long peddled propaganda. Its fate should be decided in accordance with the broadcasting codeby Oliver Kamm / March 14, 2018 / Leave a comment
Russia Today, established in 2005, runs eight television channels. One is RT UK, broadcast from London. Its average weekly viewing figure in the UK is tiny. Recent figures from the Broadcasters’ Audience Research Board show RT UK had less than 1 per cent of the total audience, and significantly less than the audience for Sky Sports Golf.
It doesn’t in principle merit any attention from politicians or from us pundits. But these are strange and dark times. A man and his daughter lie critically ill in hospital because of an attack with a nerve agent of Russian origin, while a police officer was also seriously injured. And Russia Today (known since 2009 as RT, as if that would dispel suspicions that it’s a state propaganda organ) is part of that assault on this country.
In her forceful statement to the House of Commons, Theresa May allowed for the possibility that the attack might not have been ordered by the Russian state. That will have struck many as a diplomatic fiction. An innocent party would be eager to explain and assist. Russia’s foreign ministry and its London embassy have, by contrast, vituperatively refused cooperation and failed even to express sympathy with the victims. The poisoning of the Skripals is widely regarded as an act of aggression by a criminal regime with a long record of murdering its critics at home and on foreign soil.
The propaganda apparatus of the Russian state is being employed to deride the victims, threaten other critics of the Putin regime and, of all things, spread the noisome conspiracy theory that Britain’s own security services carried out the attack on the Skripals. The English-language arm of Russian state propaganda is RT, along with the purported news agency Sputnik, which has offices in Edinburgh.
“RT is not a normal news channel but a megaphone for the most preposterous and pernicious conspiracy theories”
These outlets are the embodiment of fake news but the fakery is not just ideological: it’s part of the foreign policy of a rogue state. It’s taken a little while for British civil society to realise this. I first came across RT in 2011, when I went on the BBC News channel to discuss the position of the British government in…