"It is very wrong for Ofcom to have issued a sanction against RT on the basis of its breach findings that are currently under Judicial Review by the High Court in London. RT went to court over Ofcom’s December findings against our network because we believe that they were reached in a manner contrary to the law and were wrong. Last month we received confirmation from a judge at a hearing in the High Court that, despite Ofcom's opposition, our case against Ofcom should proceed", the broadcaster said.
RT said it would continue to "contest the very legitimacy of the breach decisions themselves" and remarked that it considered the fine "particularly inappropriate and disproportionate per Ofcom’s own track record".
"It is notable that cases that involved hate speech and incitement to violence have been subject to substantially lower fines. It is astonishing that, in contrast, Ofcom sees RT's programmes – which it thought should have presented more alternative points of view – as worthy of greater sanction than programmes containing hate speech and incitement to violence", the broadcaster's press service said.
RT added that it was "considering further legal options".
The broadcaster pointed out in January that none of the watchdog's decisions found that RT was spreading "inaccurate information". The broadcaster said Ofcom's analysis found that there were multiple sides presented in the coverage, but, according to RT, the watchdog wanted it to give still more attention to the same points of view that mainstream broadcasters provided instead of alternatives.
Ofcom issued a statement on the fine earlier in the day.
We have fined RT £200,000 for serious failures to comply with our broadcasting rules – and required the channel to broadcast a summary of our findings to its viewers: https://t.co/PevBEbeAAE— Ofcom (@Ofcom) July 26, 2019
UK media watchdog Ofcom has claimed that RT’s programmes on the poisoning of ex-Russian intelligence officer Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury and on the conflict in Syria, aired in March and April 2018, were in violation of impartiality rules. RT has commented on the matter saying it was disappointed in the Ofcom ruling, adding that the regulator had ignored its arguments.
After the poisoning of the Skripals in March 2018, UK lawmakers called for restricting RT’s operations in the United Kingdom. Ofcom subsequently opened a series of investigations against the broadcaster.
In December last year, the watchdog revealed the results of its probes, claiming that seven RT programmes had broken the broadcasting regulations. No violations have been found in three other cases. The broadcaster, in turn, expressed doubts about the impartiality of the regulator itself.
RT said in January that it would challenge the Ofcom ruling against it, noting all of its programmes were in line with the Ofcom Broadcasting Code.