ANALYSIS – RT which was formerly known as RussiaToday has become the focus of considerable attention here in Britain and across the Atlantic because it’s critics say the channel is nothing more than a mouthpiece for Vladimir Putin. Those critics include The Guardian newspaper which claims to champion free speech, as well as the usual suspects at Fox News. OFCOM which took Iranian owned PressTV off the air here has criticised RT for its lack of balance particularly over its coverage of Ukraine which the channel has unsuccessfully attempted to portray as a battle against the facists and Nazis of Kiev, in much as same way as it attempted to show the former president of Georgia to be a genocidal maniac. RT offers a different point of view – it has at least two clear stars in its schedule, namely Max Keiser and Peter Lavelle’s Cross Talk programme – and sometimes scores hits for instance it recently showed the civilian toll of Saudi Arabia’s air strikes in Yemen, which al Jazeera has been claiming to be a largely ‘clean’ war. Of course RT is a propaganda channel it may deny this but it comes across as such on air and in its content, and you also get the impression that it is impossible to criticise the President of Russia or Russia generally – but that shouldn’t mean it being removed off air. The viewer gets another take on the world and should be allowed to make their own judgment as to whether what they are seeing and hearing has some merit or is just a state’s propaganda. Any judgements like those that resulted in the removal of PressTV must take into account this broader picture, that RT offers a point of view from a part of the world that is still misunderstood and because of various reasons will continue to play a major part in future world affairs.
ABOVE .. OFCOM’S PROF STEWART PURVIS EXPLAINS WHY IRANIAN RUN PRESS TV WAS TAKEN OFF THE AIRWAVES IN TEMPLATE NEWS EXCLUSIVE .. RT’S COVERAGE OF THE UKRAINE CRISIS ..
In a ruling on Thursday, Ofcom said: “In July 2011, in light of the public debate about phone hacking and other allegations, Ofcom confirmed that it had a duty to consider whether Sky was fit and proper to continue to hold its broadcast licences.
“Ofcom considers that, on the evidence currently available and having taken into account all the relevant factors, Sky is fit and proper to hold its broadcast licences.”
Ofcom said, however, that “should further evidence become available” it may review the issue. Criminal investigations into phone hacking continue and several court cases involving senior executives from News International are pending.
However, the conduct of James Murdoch, who resigned as chairman of BSkyB in April (but remains a non-executive director) and has also relinquished his role at the UK newspaper group, was questionable, Ofcom concluded.
The regulator said: “Ofcom considers on the basis of the evidence available to date… James Murdoch’s conduct in relation to events at NGN [the newspaper group] repeatedly fell short of the conduct to be expected of him as a chief executive officer and chairman.
“However, Ofcom considers that the evidence available to date does not provide a reasonable basis to conclude that James Murdoch deliberately engaged in any wrongdoing.”
While acknowledging that many of the circumstances over phone hacking were outside of Mr Murdoch’s control or unknown to him, Ofcom criticises severely his failure to make himself aware of the deepening scandal.
“We consider James Murdoch’s conduct, including his failure to initiate action on his own account on a number of occasions, to be both difficult to comprehend and ill-judged.
“We consider that the events… raise questions regarding James Murdoch’s competence in the handling of these matters, and his attitude towards the possibility of wrongdoing in the companies for which he was responsible,” Ofcom said.
The regulator said that Mr Murdoch’s non-executive role on the BSkyB board did not impact on its “fit and proper” test, because there were other “experienced individuals who would be expected to be capable of exercising effective independent oversight”.
Ofcom continued: “We recognise that whether it is appropriate for James Murdoch to be a director in light of the events is a matter for the board and shareholders of Sky.”
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LONDON – Press TV could be back on the UK airwaves, Professor Stewart Purvis who was on the OFCOM board that made the decision to take the Iranian-owned broadcaster off air said today in an exclusive Template interview.
Prof Purvis said Press TV had not been able to meet European standards and regulations, highlighting the interview broadcast with a man who later said he had been under duress from the Iranian authorities as an example of this.
He did not however rule out a time when OFCOM and Press TV could meet and iron out the problems, that mean that viewers can only see the channel on the deregulated web.