A poll carried out by Labour Grassroots has found that only 26% of Labour supporters think the party should call for broadcaster RT’s licence to be reviewed by regulator Ofcom.
Last week Labour’s shadow culture secretary Jo Stevens wrote to Ofcom in the wake of the Commons Intelligence and Security Committee report into the role of the Russian state in UK politics. In her letter she wrote that the report “spells out the role that RT plays in the spread of disinformation and attempts at broader political influence overseas, by Russia”.
This week, Labour Grassroots surveyed 620 Labour supporters across the country and found that although 55% of respondents believed that RT was biased, only 26% thought it was right for Labour to suggest Ofcom review its licence.
While some respondents to the survey were opposed to RT broadcasting in the UK (‘Russia Today is foreign propaganda that threatens the fabric of our society and the basics of our way of life’), most people believed it provided useful insights that mainstream media does not.
55% of those surveyed believed that RT did have a bias but this was not enough for most people to conclude it should be taken off air:
‘I know RT is effectively State run. However, as a big boy I prefer to use my own judgement rather than having a media outlet censored.’
Many respondents were also keen to compare RT news coverage with the BBC’s output.
One respondent wrote: ‘I am sure that RT is careful not to cause too many ripples with the Russian government. But that also applies to the BBC and the British government.
‘I don’t watch RT to find out about Russia or its satellites. I watch for the interviews. They are very balanced and fair. The interviewers ask a question, allow a full answer and then ask follow up questions. Very good and far better than the equivalent on the BBC.’
Some 68% of those surveyed believed RT provided useful content.
RT was also praised for its coverage of issues such as the campaign by WASPI women, trade union disputes and foreign affairs.
Special mention was also made of discussion shows such as Renegade Inc and Going Underground.
Next Wednesday’s Labour Grassroots (5th August, 7:30pm to 9pm) will feature an interview with Ross Ashcroft, who presents ‘Renegade Inc’. He will be asked about his experience working with RT and also what opportunities he could see for the kind of programme were RT to have its licence revoked.
If you would like to take part in the discussion on Zoom, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can register to watch the show here.