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The Divisional Court has handed down judgment in an application by Autonomous Non-Profit Organisation TV-Novosti (the Russian state-owned broadcaster, known as RT) for judicial review of Ofcom’s decisions that various programmes broadcast by RT breached regulatory requirements of ‘due impartiality’, and its imposition of a fine of £200,000.

RT argued that Ofcom’s findings, and its interpretation or application of the relevant statutory and regulatory provisions, constituted a disproportionate interference with RT’s rights under Article 10 ECHR; alternatively, that the regulatory scheme was itself inconsistent with Article 10. In particular, RT argued that Article 10 ECHR requires Ofcom to have regard not only to the particular programmes in dispute, but to the ‘dominant media narrative’, and to the broadcaster’s overall output, when assessing whether a programme has complied with the standard of due impartiality. The Court rejected these submissions, finding that the regulatory scheme does not permit consideration of the output of third party broadcasters, or un-linked programming by the broadcaster, when assessing whether the broadcaster has complied with its due impartiality obligations, and that the scheme, as well as Ofcom’s application of that scheme, and the sanction imposed in this case, were proportionate for the purposes of Article 10. 

Sam Grodzinski QC and Jason Pobjoy acted for RT; Brian Kennelly QC and Jessica Boyd acted for Ofcom.

The full judgment can be found here.

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