News ID: 211637
Published: 0453 GMT March 13, 2018

Britain’s Ofcom says Russia’s RT could lose license over spy case

Britain’s Ofcom says Russia’s RT could lose license over spy case

Britain's media regulator Ofcom has declared its potential intention to revoke the license of Russia’s RT television if London officially blames Moscow for the death of a former Russian agent.

Ofcom said on Tuesday that it had informed ANO TV Novosti, the holder of RT's UK broadcast licenses, that it could lose the broadcasting license should Britain determine Russia played a role in poisoning Sergei Skripal and his daughter in the city of Salisbury earlier this month.

The regulator said that if such an involvement was revealed, it could mean that there was unlawful use of force by the Russian state against the UK. It reiterated that the Russian government was financing ANO TV Novosti and Ofcom had a duty to check that holders of broadcast licenses remain "fit and proper" to operate in Britain.

The ban on RT's operation in the United Kingdom could render Ofcom as a media body which hardly tolerates narratives opposed to those of the British government.  

The organization has a history of acting to the benefit of the British government in disputes with other countries. The body revoked the licenses of Press TV in 2012 after the Tehran-based English language outlet aired confessions by a British-Iranian citizen who had spied for Western intelligence services. Iranian authorities responded to the ban at the time and called Ofcom “the media arm of the Royal family.”

Britain has yet to officially blame Russia for Skripal’s death, which took place on March 4 when the 66-year-old former Russian spy and his daughter, Yulia, 33, were found dead outside a restaurant in Salisbury.

Russia has denied any involvement while protesting against media reports which liken the spy’s death to the assassination of Alexander Litvinenko, another Russian agent who was killed in Britain in 2006 with radioactive material that was reportedly put in his cup of tea by Russian agents.

British Prime Minister Theresa May has given Russia until midnight on Tuesday to explain about a nerve agent that killed Skripal. Investigators say the chemical material was developed by the former Soviet Union.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Tuesday that his country was not guilty in the incident, adding that Moscow would not respond to the British request about the nerve agent. He said the refusal was because London had rejected Moscow’s official request to have access to the material. He said, however, that Russia was ready to help Britain further investigate the case.

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