Media regulator in Russia starts checking legality of BBC’s operations

Russia’s media regulator said it would carry out checks to determine if the BBC World News channel and BBC Internet sites complied with Russian law. (Shutterstock)
Updated 21 December 2018

Media regulator in Russia starts checking legality of BBC’s operations

MOSCOW: Russia’s media regulator said on Friday it would carry out checks to determine if the BBC World News channel and BBC Internet sites complied with Russian law, a move it described as a response to British pressure on a Russian TV channel.
Roskomnadzor, the regulator, said in a statement its checks were Russia’s 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 programs.
“The results of our check will be announced separately,” the Russian regulator said.
There was no immediate comment from either the BBC or Ofcom.
Ofcom said on Thursday it was considering imposing some kind of sanction on RT, which is financed by the Russian state. It took issue in particular with its coverage of the poisoning in Britain of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter.
Britain has accused agents working for Russia’s military intelligence agency, the GRU, of committing the crime, an allegation Moscow denies.
British Media Secretary Jeremy Wright also weighed in on Thursday, saying what he called RT’s mask as an impartial news provider was slipping.
RT rejected Ofcom’s findings, saying Ofcom had ignored its explanations and not paid “due regard” to its rights.
Commenting on the launch of the Russian investigation on Friday, Margarita Simonyan, RT’s editor-in-chief, said on Twitter that Ofcom had hinted that it planned to strip her channel of its broadcasting license in Britain.
“(Welcome to the) brave new world,” she wrote.
“I assume they (the Russian regulator) will now look to see if the BBC expresses alternative points of view. With a microscope.”
Russian state media has criticized the BBC in recent days, accusing it of trying to falsely prove that Moscow was involved in whipping up street protests in France, a charge that Russia rejects.


Qatar’s BeIN chairman, two others indicted in bribery case

Updated 20 February 2020

Qatar’s BeIN chairman, two others indicted in bribery case

  • Former FIFA general secretary Jerome Valcke charged with accepting bribes, among others
  • Al-Khelaifi charged with inciting Valcke to commit aggravated criminal mismanagement

GENEVA: Paris Saint-Germain president Nasser Al-Khelaifi was charged Thursday by Swiss federal prosecutors in connection with a wider bribery investigation linked to World Cup television rights.

The office of Switzerland’s attorney general filed an indictment charging Al-Khelaifi with inciting former FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke “to commit aggravated criminal mismanagement.”

The Qatari football and television executive, however, no longer faces an accusation of bribery. Following a three-year investigation, FIFA reached an “amicable agreement” with Al-Khelaifi last month, prosecutors said, to drop its criminal complaint relating to the awarding of 2026 and 2030 World Cup rights to Qatari broadcaster BeIN Sports.

Al-Khelaifi is the head of Doha-based BeIN Sports and also a member of the UEFA executive committee.

Al-Khelaifi was indicted for his alleged part in providing Valcke — who had influence over the awarding of World Cup rights until being removed from office in 2015 — with use of a luxury villa in Sardinia without paying rent valued at up to €1.8 million ($1.94 million).

Valcke was charged with accepting bribes, “several counts of aggravated criminal mismanagement … and falsification of documents.”

For the first time in the five-year investigation of FIFA business, Swiss prosecutors revealed that they believe Valcke received kickbacks totaling €1.25 million to steer World Cup rights toward favored broadcasters in Italy and Greece.

A third person who was not identified was charged with bribery over those payments and also for inciting Valcke to commit aggravated criminal mismanagement.

Al-Khelaifi was appointed to the UEFA executive committee, representing European football clubs, one year ago despite being implicated in the bribery case. He is also an influential board member of the European Club Association, which is seeking to drive reforms in the Champions League to favor elite clubs such as French champion PSG.

He denied wrongdoing after being questioned in 2017 and 2019 in connection with criminal proceedings opened three years ago.

Al-Khelaifi has also been implicated in a separate corruption investigation by French prosecutors that is linked to Qatar seeking hosting rights for the track and field world championships. Doha hosted the 2019 edition.