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Ofcom widens inquiry into Russia-backed RT

The Russian-funded TV channel RT is facing a further three investigations as Ofcom considers whether it has breached the terms of its UK licence.

The broadcasting regulator said it was now examining a total of 11 items shown on the station, which used to be known as Russia Today.

Ofcom launched its inquiry amid UK tensions with Russia over the nerve agent poisoning of former spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury in March.

The watchdog had said in April it had “observed a significant increase in the number of programmes” on the channel that should be investigated.

On Monday, a spokeswoman said the further investigations – one regarding a segment on current affairs programme CrossTalk and two news broadcasts – were looking into “the due impartiality of news and current affairs programmes”.

All the new items were aired during April and May and covered US foreign policy in Syria, Ukrainian government policy and the treatment of anti-fracking activists in the UK respectively.

Of the eight other programmes facing scrutiny, two involved a show called Sputnik, hosted by former MP George Galloway.

Ofcom must decide if RT remains a “fit and proper” holder of a UK broadcast licence and has previously warned that its financial support from the Russian state will be a consideration in its findings.

RT has previously defended its position, saying it is a “valuable voice in the UK news landscape”.

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