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Alex Salmond's Kremlin-backed TV show censured

By Sherna Noah

The Alex Salmond Show on a Kremlin-backed TV channel has been found to have breached broadcasting rules for presenting messages as having come from viewers when they were in fact from production staff.

Regulator Ofcom investigated "audience tweets" in the former Scottish First Minister's debut show on RT, formerly Russia Today.

It found that the tweets were presented as having come from viewers but most of them were from production staff linked to the programme. Four of the six tweets or emails featured in the November episode were sent by people connected either directly or indirectly to the production of The Alex Salmond Show or to Salmond in some way, Ofcom said.

An Ofcom spokeswoman said: "We found this programme broke our rules by misleading its audience.

"A series of messages were presented on-air as having come from viewers. In fact, most of them were from production staff linked to the programme." This is the first decision to be made into 11 investigations that were launched by Ofcom into RT.

The regulator is also investigating "the due impartiality of news and current affairs programmes on the RT news channel".

It has said that since the Salisbury poisoning case, it has "observed a significant increase in the number of programmes" on the channel that should be investigated.

MPs have also voiced concern about the Russian news channel while Prime Minister Theresa May has faced repeated calls for the Government to take action against RT in the House of Commons.

A spokesman for Slainte Media, which makes The Alex Salmond Show, said: "For the very first programme of a recorded series there were obviously no existing viewers or live tweets to draw on in order to illustrate the audience participation section.

"Thus we used comment from a variety of sources for the six questions."

He added that the questions were "basically light-hearted and clearly pursued no particular agenda nor could possibly have caused any offence".

"It is worth noting that since this very first Alex Salmond Show was broadcast, last November, and the audience established, we have produced no less than 34 shows featuring this particular section on viewers' questions with no difficulty or complaint whatsoever."

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