Russia launches investigation into BBC as dispute with Britain escalates

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MOSCOW: Russia’s media regulator said yesterday it had launched an investigation into the activities of British public broadcaster the BBC, a move it described as a response to pressure being put on a Russian TV channel in Britain.

Roskomnadzor, the regulator, said in a statement it was looking into the activities of the BBC World News channel and BBC internet sites to see if they complied with Russian law.

It said its checks were in response to a decision by British media regulator Ofcom, which on Thursday said that Russian broadcaster RT had broken impartiality rules in some of its news and current affairs programmes. The Kremlin said Russian government agencies had repeatedly raised concerns about the BBC’s coverage of Russia and of Moscow’s actions in Syria.  “Many questions about the BBC in terms of its tendentious coverage of events, its coverage not in the style of a media actor but in a pre-planned and politically motivated way, have accumulated over a long period,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.

Only the country’s media regulator had the authority to examine such allegations, he said. An unnamed source familiar with the investigation was quoted by the Interfax news agency as saying that the BBC’s activities in Russia could be restricted if it was found to be in breach of Russian law.

The BBC said it was in full compliance. “As everywhere else in the world, the BBC works in Russia in full compliance with the country’s laws and regulations to deliver independent news and information to its audiences,” said a spokeswoman. —Agencies

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