RT (formerly Russia Today) is a Russian state-controlled international television network funded by the federal tax budget of the Russian government. It operates pay television channels directed to audiences outside of Russia, as well as providing Internet content in English, Spanish, French, German, Arabic, and Russian.
RT is a brand of TV-Novosti, an “autonomous non-profit organization” founded by the Russian state-owned news agency RIA Novosti in April 2005. During the economic crisis in December 2008, the Russian government, headed by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, included ANO “TV-Novosti” on its list of core organizations of strategic importance to Russia. RT operates as a multilingual service with channels in five languages: the original English-language channel was launched in 2005, the Arabic-language channel in 2007, Spanish in 2009, German in 2014 and French in 2017. RT America (since 2010), RT UK (since 2014) and other regional channels also produce local content. RT is the parent company of the Ruptly video agency, which owns the Redfish video channel and the Maffick digital media company.
RT has been described as a major propaganda outlet for the Russian government and its foreign policy. Academics, fact-checkers, and news reporters (including some current and former RT reporters) have identified RT as a purveyor of disinformation and conspiracy theories. UK media regulator Ofcom has repeatedly found RT to have breached its rules on impartiality, including multiple instances in which RT broadcast “materially misleading” content. RT’s editor-in-chief Margarita Simonyan compared the channel to the Ministry of Defence and stated that it was “waging an information war, and with the entire Western world”. In September 2017, RT America was ordered to register as a “foreign agent” with the United States Department of Justice under the Foreign Agents Registration Act.RT has been banned in Ukraine since 2014, and in Latvia and Lithuania since 2020.