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Russian media watchdog to probe into BBC websites following Ofcom’s decision on RT

British media regulator Ofcom said that RT had violated impartiality rules in seven programs in the spring of 2018

MOSCOW, December 21. /TASS/. Russia’s media watchdog Roskomnadzor is launching a probe into the BBC’s websites and the BBC World News channel for violations of Russian laws following British media regulator Ofcom’s statement, which said that the RT TV channel had broken impartiality rules, the watchdog said on Friday.

"Roskomnadzor is launching a probe into the BBC World News channel broadcasting programs in Russia, as well as into the BBC’s websites, in order to figure out whether their content is consistent with Russian laws," the media watchdog’s statement reads.

On December 20, British media regulator Ofcom said that RT had broken impartiality rules in seven programs in the spring of 2018. "Ofcom considers the seven breaches in respect of news and current affairs programs broadcast in the six-week period from 17 March 2018 to 26 April 2018, taken together, to be a serious failure of compliance. Therefore, subject to receiving the Licensee’s representations on this issue, Ofcom is minded to consider these breaches for the imposition of a statutory sanction," the regulator said in a statement. RT may face a fine of 250,000 pounds for violating the rules but Ofcom said that the channel has "the opportunity to make written and oral representations before Ofcom reaches any decision as to whether to impose a sanction and if so what form that sanction should take."

The programs in question concerned the Salisbury poisoning incident, chemical weapons use allegations against the Syrian government, the United States’ foreign policy and the situation in Ukraine. According to Ofcom, the programs were not balanced enough.

In response, RT said that it was "extremely disappointed by Ofcom's conclusions in what were almost all self-initiated investigations into RT by the regulator." "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 and, in particular, has not paid due regard to the rights of a broadcaster and the audience. We are reviewing the findings Ofcom has put forward and will decide shortly the nature of our next steps," RT added.

Following the March incident, when, according to London, former Russian military intelligence (GRU) Colonel Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia suffered the effects of an alleged nerve agent in the British city of Salisbury, Ofcom launched ten investigations into RT, as many as in the previous 11 years.