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Russian Regulator Accuses BBC Of Broadcast Violations


Roskomnadzor also accused the BBC of violations related to the timely filing of required documents. (file photo)

Russia's communications regulator has accused the BBC World News channel of violating broadcasting requirements within Russia, in an intensification of a dispute over media between Moscow and London.

Roskomnadzor detected violations by the British public broadcaster of an order relating to "the protection of children from information that is harmful to their health and development," the agency said on March 3.

The regulator said the BBC did not identify and label violent or upsetting content with proper age certificates and that it failed to meet requirements for the timely filing of documents.

Under Russian regulations, the broadcaster could be hit with two fines of up to 200,000 rubles ($3,000) for the alleged labeling offense and up to 20,000 rubles for a document-filing violation.

The BBC did not immediately comment.

Roskomnadzor said a court date of March 12 has been set on the matter.

Foreign media operations have faced increasing restrictions and reporting requirements inside Russia, moves critics have said are intended to muzzle news coverage.

In late 2017, Russian President Vladmir Putin signed a law that enables the country's Justice Ministry to designate foreign media outlets "foreign agents."

Shortly thereafter, Russia declared Voice of America (VOA), Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL), and seven affiliated news services "foreign agents."

Russian officials have said such laws are a "symmetrical response" after the state-financed RT television channel, which U.S. authorities accuse of spreading propaganda, was required to register its U.S. operating unit under the U.S. Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA).

U.S. officials say the action was not symmetrical, arguing that the U.S. and Russian laws are different and that Russia uses its "foreign agent" legislation to silence dissent and discourage a free exchange of ideas.

In 2019, Russian authorities warned British media operating in the country that they should be prepared for consequences after British regulator Ofcom fined RT for breaching impartiality rules.

Ofcom fined RT $242,000 for what it said were partial broadcasts over the conflict in Syria, Ukraine's policies on Nazism, and the poisoning in England of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal.

Relations between London and Moscow have deteriorated over the past two years following the poisoning of Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, in the city of Salisbury on March 4, 2018.

It was later discovered they had been exposed to Novichok, a Soviet-made military nerve agent, and Britain and the West blamed Moscow for the attack. Russia denied involvement.

The Skripals both recovered, but two other British citizens were exposed to the nerve agent in June 2018, apparently by accident; one of them, Dawn Sturgess, died.

With reporting by Reuters and RFE/RL’s Russian Service
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