Autonomous Non-Profit Organisation TV-Novosti –v- The Office of Communications
Tuesday 12th – Wednesday 13th October 2021
This is an appeal against the Order of the President of the Queen’s Bench Division and Dingemans LJ (27/3/20) that granted permission to challenge the Sanction Decision, the claim for judicial review in respect of the Breach Decision and Sanction Decision was dismissed.
The Appellant, referred to by the parties as RT, is the Autonomous Non-Profit Organisation TV-Novosti, a Russian corporation, which holds a licence to broadcast the RT television service in the United Kingdom. It is common ground that RT is funded by the Russian Government, and in 2017 it received annual funding of about 18.7 billion roubles or about US$323 million. RT has an average audience of 3,400 viewers at any given point in the day and an average reach of 1.06 per cent of adults in the United Kingdom, that is, about 540,000 people.
The Respondent, the Office of Communications, generally known as Ofcom, is the United Kingdom’s regulatory and competition authority for the broadcasting, telecommunications and postal industries and has statutory powers and duties under the Communications Act 2003 Act in relation to television and radio services amongst other matters. The 2003 Act and the Code made under the 2003 Act provide for the preservation of `due impartiality’ in news and television programmes.
Two of the programmes with which the claim was concerned had been broadcast in the wake of the poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia Skripal on 4 March 2018 in Salisbury and allegations by the Government of the United Kingdom and others, of Russian state involvement in those events.
Following complaints, and in consequence of its own monitoring, Ofcom decided to open an investigation into a number of news and current affairs programmes broadcast by RT; and on 13 March 2018 Ofcom informed RT it was assessing whether it was fit and proper to hold a UK broadcast licence.
Lower Court Judgment: