Russian broadcaster NTV falls foul of UK broadcasting standards watchdog - faces loss of licence

Gazprom controlled media company NTV is the latest Russian media channel to fall foul of Ofcom, the British broadcasting standards watchdog, following in the footsteps of RT (Russia Today).

Ofcom received a complaint that a discussion in the April 2nd 2018 edition of Today, a news programme, covering the main political, cultural and economic events of the day in Russia and abroad, concerning the poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury on 4 March 2018 was not duly impartial. The programme was broadcast in Russian, and targeted at the Baltic states. This activity is regulated under a UK issued Ofcom licence, which is held by Baltic MediaAlliance Limited (BMAL), and which is now under threat.

Throughout this programme the following news caption appeared along the bottom of the screen:

“Media sources: A theory about poisoned buckwheat groats was mentioned in Skripal’s case.

"Inability of the United Kingdom to answer Russia’s questions with regards to Skripal’s case will mean that all this is a fabrication and a provocation”.

During the broadcast an image of a document was shown for approximately 4 to 5 seconds. Its text referred to:

A list of questions from the Russian State Party to the Technical Secretariat of the OPCW in ‘the Skripal case’, fabricated by the United Kingdom against Russia."

Ofcom issued a Preliminary View that the programme was in breach of Rules 5.1, 5.11 and 5.12 of its Broadcasting Code, and invited BMAL’s representations on the Preliminary View. BMAL failed to provide such representations within the timeframe stipulated by Ofcom and did not respond to further attempts by Ofcom to contact them.

This is the sixth time that the BMAL has breached Ofcom's impartiality rules on its channels NTV Mir Lithuania and NTV Mir Baltic since November 2014, and the watchdog has stated that it is now considering "statutory sanction", which could result in withdrawal of its licence.

NTV’s owner is Gazprom Media, a subsidiary of Gazprom, a major supplier of gas to the international market, including the EU. In this way, the Russian authorities control NTV via Gazprom, even if NTV is not formally a state media outlet.

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Gary Cartwright

Gary Cartwright

Gary Cartwright is publishing editor of EU Today. 

An experienced journalist and published author, he specialises in environment, energy, and defence.

He also has more than 10 years experience of working as a staff member in the EU institutions, working with political groups and MEPs in various policy areas.

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