Boris Johnson orders review of Russian RT channel's U.K. broadcast license amid Ukraine crisis

Boris Johnson
(Image credit: Tolga Akmen - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has ordered a review of Russian channel RT's broadcasting license after calls for it to be pulled from the air.

Johnson announced on Wednesday that the media regulator Ofcom is reviewing the channel's license amid the ongoing crisis in Ukraine, Variety reports. He confirmed as much after opposition leader Keir Starmer called for further actions against Russian President Vladimir Putin's "campaign of lies and disinformation," including by acting against RT, the Russian state-controlled network.

"Russia Today is his personal propaganda tool," Starmer said. "I can see no reason why it should be allowed to continue to broadcast in this country."

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Starmer asked if Johnson would order an Ofcom review of RT's license, and Johnson responded that such a review has already been ordered. He added that "we live in a country that lives in free speech," so "I think it's important that we should leave it up to Ofcom, rather than to politicians, to decide which media organizations to ban."

According to Variety, Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries wrote to Ofcom that RT is "demonstrably part of Russia's global disinformation campaign," adding, "I have concerns that broadcasters such as RT, whom Ofcom have found to have repeatedly breached the Broadcasting Code in the past, will also look to spread harmful disinformation about the ongoing crisis in Ukraine." The push comes after Putin on Monday ordered troops into eastern Ukraine. Per Reuters, Ofcom said that "given the seriousness of the Ukraine crisis, we will examine complaints about any broadcaster's news coverage of this issue as a priority."

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