Ofcom has fined the news channel 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.
Ofcom has rules in place requiring broadcast news to be presented with due impartiality.
Our investigation found that RT failed to preserve due impartiality in seven news and current affairs programmes between 17 March and 26 April 2018.
Taken together, these breaches represented serious and repeated failures of compliance with our rules. We were particularly concerned by the frequency of RT's rule-breaking over a relatively short period of time.
The programmes were mostly in relation to major matters of political controversy and current public policy -- namely the UK Government's response to the events in Salisbury, and the Syrian conflict.
Ofcom decided to impose a financial penalty of £200,000; and direct RT to broadcast a summary of Ofcom's findings, in a form and on dates to be determined by Ofcom. We consider this sanction to be appropriate and proportionate. It takes into
account the additional steps that RT has taken to ensure its compliance since we launched our investigations; and that we have not recorded any further breaches of our due impartiality rules against RT to date.
Ofcom will await the conclusion of RT's application for judicial review of our breach decisions before enforcing the sanction.
Kitaab-ut-Tawheed, Part 59, Peace TV Urdu, 22 November 2017, 09:00
Strengthening Your Family: The Valley of the Homosexuals Episode 9, Peace TV, 1 1 March 2018, 11:30
Media and Islam, War or Peace?, Peace TV, 13 November 2017, 07:30 and 14:00
Better Half or Bitter Half, Peace TV, 13 November 2017, 18:30
Umdatul Akhaam, Part 162, Peace TV, 13 November 2017, 22:30
This Bulletin sets out Ofcom's Decisions on the five programmes above.
Peace TV Urdu's licence is held by Club TV Ltd. Peace TV's licence is held by Lord Production Inc Ltd. Both licensees are majority controlled by Universal Broadcasting Corporation Limited1.
Through monitoring, Ofcom identified content raising issues under the Code in four of these programmes. We received a complaint about the other programme.
In accordance with our published procedures, Ofcom watched all the programmes and took careful account of all the relevant information, including the individual facts of each case and the representations made by the
Ofcom has decided that four of the five programmes breached the Code, and one did not. The reasons are set out in full in each of the corresponding decisions which follow this summary. We have notified the relevant licensees
that we will consider the breaches in two of the programmes, Kitaab-ut-Tawheed and Valley of the Homosexuals, for the imposition of statutory sanctions.
Kitaab-ut-Tawheed: A religious scholar gave a view on the practice of magic. The programme breached Rule 3.1 (incitement to crime), Rule 3.2 (hate speech), Rule 3.3 (abusive treatment) and Rule 2.3 (offence).
Strengthening Your Family: The Valley of the Homosexuals. The presenter discussed a religious perspective on homosexuality. The programme breached Rules 3.2 (hate speech), Rule 3.3 (abusive treatment) and Rule 2.3
Media and Islam, War or Peace?: The presenter gave a religious view on the punishment for apostasy. The programme breached Rules 3.2 (hate speech), Rule 3.3 (abusive treatment) and Rule 2.3 (offence).
Better Half or Bitter Half: The presenter gave a religious view on child marriage. The programme breached Rule 2.3 (offence).
Umdatul Akhaam, Part 162: The presenter discussed specific religious texts on prescribed punishments. We did not consider this programme was in breach of our rules.
Written ministerial statement by the Secretary of State Jeremy Wright updating the House on Ofcom's statutory duty to share information with Government in advance of publication, introduced under section 24A of the Communications Act 2003:
I would like to update the House on Ofcom's statutory duty to share information with Government at least 24 hours before publication, introduced under section 24A of the Communications Act 2003, inserted by the Digital Economy Act 2017. This
early access to information from Ofcom is important in supporting the Government's wider policy responsibilities in safeguarding and improving the delivery of essential communications services on which consumers rely.
To commence the duty I must specify by regulations what categories of information will be exempt from this duty, following consultation with Ofcom. Our consultation with Ofcom has now concluded and I can inform the House of our intention to
proceed with the implementation of the duty via a negative Statutory Instrument later in the Autumn.
The categories of information to be listed as exempt in these regulations include broadcasting content standards and broadcasting licensing enforcement. This is to ensure that there can be no accusations or perceptions that the Government has
had inappropriate prior knowledge or been involved in these functions. Corporate functions will also be excluded. Other types of information Ofcom proposes to publish, which fall outside of the above exemption regulations, will need to be shared
with the Government at least 24 hours before publication by Ofcom once the duty comes into force, unless there are exceptional circumstances or prior agreement is reached.