Russia Today (RT), a propaganda news channel bankrolled by Vladimir Putin, has launched a dedicated UK version. It is the first time an overseas news operator has launched a service specifically targeted at British viewers. Perhaps not surprising
as the venture looks set to cost Putin £250m a year
These are the latest salvos in a propaganda onslaught in which RT, al-Jazeera, China's state-funded CCTV and the BBC World Service and its commercially-funded sister TV channel BBC World News, are among the most prominent players.
The international version of RT is already facing six separate investigations by TV censor Ofcom, including its coverage of the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17. Richard Sambrook, former director of global news at the BBC and
director of the Centre of Journalism at Cardiff University, said:
Editorially its line is clearly one that is being driven by the Kremlin agenda. It's a surprising move to focus resources on the UK. It's not a commercial proposition, therefore the main purpose must be to gain influence. It's about soft power
for the Kremlin.
RT's UK channel will be made up of five hours of programmes a day broadcast from its new studios in Milbank, with the rest of the schedule filled by content from its international channel.
Not since Iraq have I seen BBC News working at propaganda strength like this. So glad I'm out of there
These are the words of the former economics editor of the BBC's Newsnight show, Paul Mason , relating to the BBC's coverage of the Scottish independence referendum. The London broadcaster's biased reporting on Scottish independence is not an
isolated incident however, as the BBC has been blatantly warping, misrepresenting and omitting pertinent facts and narratives on numerous issues, from its coverage on Israel to its distortion on Ukraine.
The broadcaster has been widely criticised by many in Scotland and around the world for their propaganda campaign in the run up to the referendum in September, leading thousands of people to take to the streets in protest over the lack of
journalistic integrity at the BBC. A major episode of this was when the BBC's political editor, Nick Robinson, censored Alex Salmond's lengthy response to a question regarding the rumours that the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) would move its
headquarters to London if Scotland voted for independence. Despite Salmond's comprehensive response to the question which gave the BBC seven minutes of video footage to edit for their report, Robinson decided to deceive the public and falsely
claim he didn't answer the question. This was part of a wider propaganda campaign of injecting fear and uncertainty into the idea of Scotland being an independent nation.
Propaganda channel, Russia Today, has launched a dedicated UK TV channel that broadcasts five hours of programmes a day made out of its new London studios.
But it hasn't taken before the UK TV censor Ofcom has got involved to investigate the channel for biased news.
The channel has already been threatened with statutory sanctions by Ofcom after the Kremlin-backed news channel breached broadcasting regulations on impartiality with its coverage of the Ukraine crisis.
Russia Today, or RT, was summoned to a meeting with Ofcom after it was found guilty of breaching the code governing UK broadcasters in a ruling published this week.
The censor flagged up four separate reports, all broadcast in March this year, all dealing with the situation in Ukraine. Ofcom said it recognised that RT, which is funded by the Russian government and launched a UK version last month , would want to present the news from a Russian perspective
. But it said all news must be presented with due impartiality ... in particular, when reporting on matters of major political controversy .
It follows three previous breaches of impartiality rules, and Ofcom called for a meeting with the broadcaster to discuss compliance with regard to its due impartiality . It said it had put the channel on notice that any future breaches
of the due impartiality rules may result in further regulatory action, including consideration of a statutory sanction .
The US establishment clearly cannot accept that US voters selected Donald Trump because of their own failures to look after sizable chunks of the American people. Instead they prefer to believe US minds were somehow corrupted by mysterious
foreign agents offering propaganda and fake news.
So now the US is coming down heavy on the Russian propaganda news channel RT. RT said this week that it had been ordered by the US Department of Justice to register as a foreign agent by Monday or have its bank accounts frozen. This 1938
reporting law is something from the age when the Nazis were on the ascent, and that foreign agents were indeed enemies of the state with a war looming.
In response to this treatment, Russia's parliament has now begun drafting tit-for-tat measures that would place severe restrictions on some US media outlets operating in the country, in a move that looks likely to plunge US-Russia relations to a
Russian president Vladimir Putin had previously warned that Russia would take retaliatory steps if RT, formerly known as Russia Today, was targeted by US authorities.
The Russian parliamentary speaker, Vyacheslav Volodin, said MPs had been tasked with drafting amendments to Russia's own law on foreign agents to include biased media organisations that oppose Russia's political system. He said the amendments
could be approved in their third and final reading as earlier as next Friday.
Senator Alexei Pushkov, who chairs the upper house of parliament's media policy committee, said the measures would initially target CNN, the Voice of America, and Radio Liberty. However, Maria Zakharova, the Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman,
did not rule out that the updated law could also result in the expulsion of Moscow-based correspondents from US newspapers such as the New York Times and The Washington Post.
France's TV censor has warned the French arm of the propaganda channel, Russia Today, over a news report that dubbed over the voices of Syrian civilians with words they had not said.
France's Audiovisual Council (CSA) accused the state-backed broadcaster with failures of honesty, rigour of information and diversity of viewpoints.
The news report, aired on 13 April, contested the reality of chemical weapons attacks in the Syrian region of Eastern Ghouta, the CSA said. It noted that the testimony of a Syrian witness had been dubbed with a voice saying words that bore no
resemblance with what he had said.
The CSA added that another witness had been dubbed with a voiceover saying that local residents had been ordered by militant group Jaysh al-Islam to simulate the effects of a chemical attack, but the testimony did not mention any particular
The CSA further said the report demonstrated an imbalance in analysis of the situation in Syria and that on a subject this sensitive, the different points of view should have been expressed.