LONDON, May 13. /TASS/. Russia’s RT TV channel will not lose its broadcast license in Britain over the nerve agent attack in Salisbury, as the channel "is fit and proper," The Sunday Telegraph wrote with reference to the UK’s media watchdog Ofcom. Earlier the broadcasting regulator conducted seven investigations into the due impartiality of the RT television channel over its news reporting on the poisoning of ex-GRU colonel Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury.
"Should the UK investigating authorities determine that there was an 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," the regulator said.
Ofcom's announcement follows calls by several British MPs for RT to be taken off air, in the wake of the attack. Tom Tugendhat, the chairman of the Commons foreign affairs select committee, called it a "hostile agent" carrying out "information warfare". The British government later confirmed its conclusion that the attack amounted to "an unlawful use of force by the Russian State".
"In our judgment, it would be inappropriate for Ofcom always to place decisive weight on such matters in determining whether state-funded broadcasters were fit and proper to hold broadcast licenses, independently of their broadcasting record," the regulator said.
"If we did, many state-funded broadcasters (mostly those from states which may not share UK values) would be potentially not fit and proper. This would be a poorer outcome for UK audiences in light of our duties on plurality, diversity and freedom of expression," Ofcom added.
On March 4, Sergei Skripal, 66, who had been convicted in Russia of spying for Great Britain, and his daughter Yulia, 33, suffered the effects of an alleged nerve agent in the British city of Salisbury. Claiming that the substance used in the incident had been a nerve agent allegedly developed in Russia, London rushed to accuse Moscow of being involved in the case without presenting any evidence. The Russian side flatly rejected all of the United Kingdom’s accusations, saying that a program aimed at developing such a substance had existed neither in the Soviet Union nor in Russia. On April 12, the OPCW released a report confirming London’s findings that former Russian military intelligence officer-turned-British spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia had been poisoned with a nerve agent, but did not provide any information on the name or origin of the toxin in question.