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RT has been removed from the airwaves in the UK and across the EU

Russian-backed news channel RT has disappeared from all broadcast platforms in the UK.

UK access to the TV network, formerly called Russia Today, has been affected by a ban imposed by the European Union.

Although the UK is no longer in the EU, the bloc applied sanctions to satellite companies in Luxembourg and France, which provided the RT feed to Sky, Freesat and Freeview.

RT said “the facade of free press in Europe has finally crumbled”.

The EU said it was preventing RT and Sputnik, both state-owned broadcasters, from being received across Europe until the aggression towards Ukraine ends.

In a statement, the EU said RT and Sputnik promoted “systematic information manipulation and disinformation by the Kremlin”.

‘Propaganda machine’

UK Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries tweeted: “RT is no longer available on British TVs… The Russian dictator will now find it harder to spread his disinformation and lies.”

Earlier this week, she described the channel as “Putin’s polluting propaganda machine”.

UK media regulator Ofcom is currently investigating RT for 27 potential breaches of its broadcasting code. The watchdog has the power to revoke a broadcast licence, but any action is likely to take weeks.

In response to the channel’s removal, RT deputy editor-in-chief Anna Belkina said: “Media regulation should be divorced from geopolitics, led by independent bodies and expert regulators, ensuring diversity in news and information sources is protected.

“Today, politicians in the EU have demonstrated their willingness to delegitimise independent regulators.”

RT says it is an “autonomous” operation financed by the Russian Federation.

Image source, Reuters

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YouTube, which is owned by Google, has ramped up its sanctions on RT content

The removal of RT from the airwaves comes after YouTube blocked channels linked to RT and Sputnik across Europe.

“Due to the ongoing war in Ukraine, we’re blocking YouTube channels connected to RT and Sputnik across Europe, effective immediately,” a statement from Google Europe said earlier this week.

Facebook has also blocked access to RT and Sputnik in Europe.

Sir Nick Clegg, the former UK deputy prime minister, is now vice president of global affairs at Facebook’s parent company, Meta. He tweeted on Monday: “We have received requests from a number of governments and the EU to take further steps in relation to Russian state-controlled media.

“Given the exceptional nature of the current situation, we will be restricting access to RT and Sputnik across the EU at this time.”

Image source, PA Media

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The BBC has set up shortwave radio frequencies to provide news to Ukraine’s citizens

Meanwhile, the BBC has halted all content licensing with its Russian customers. The corporation’s commercial arm BBC Studios said: “In common with other media organisations, we have been monitoring events closely.

“The BBC’s executive team were meeting [on Wednesday] and they have decided to stop all content licensing to Russian customers.”

That means Russian viewers will be prevented from watching shows including Dancing With The Stars and The Green Planet.

The BBC has also confirmed it has launched two new shortwave radio frequencies to make sure its news was available in parts of Ukraine and Russia after a TV tower in Kyiv was bombed and internet services restricted.

The shortwave services are broadcasting four hours of World Service English news per day.