Welsh Conservatives criticise Putin ‘propaganda’ channel that paid Tory Minister thousands
The Welsh Conservatives have taken aim at a Putin “propaganda” channel that paid a Tory Minister thousands of pounds.
The party’s Shadow Culture Minister Tom Giffard MS has written to Ofcom to add his party’s voice to the chorus of criticising Kremlin-backed RT’s place on the airwaves following the unprovoked attack by Russia on Ukraine.
David TC Davies, a minister in the UK Government’s Wales Office, received a total of £3,000 plus travel costs for appearing four times on Russian state-controlled international television network, which was previously called Russia Today, between December and September in 2017.
Giffard has written to Dame Melanie Dawes, Ofcom CEO, to “regarding the operation and reporting of the RT News channel in the UK”.
He accused the broadcaster, which is funded by the Russian state, of spreading disinformation, and being a “propaganda tool” for President Putin.
He also highlighted the repeated breaches of the Broadcasting Code by the channel: in 2019 RT were fined £200,000 for “a serious breach” of impartiality rules regarding reports on the Salisbury poisoning and the war in Syria.
Broadcast regulator Ofcom has announced that it has launched 15 separate investigations into RT because of its news coverage of the war in Ukraine.
It has repeatedly echoed President Putin’s narrative of the invasion and has consistently referred to the invasion as a “special military operation”.
Welsh Conservative and Shadow Culture Minister Tom Giffard MS said: “At a time of war, it is important that facts are reported in an even-handed manner. Any unbiased observer can see that RT fails to do this on every level.
“Make no mistake, Russia is responsible for this war, and for the deaths of the innocent people caught up in it. But RT tries to cloud this completely and spin the Kremlin’s narrative instead.
“RT is the propaganda arm of a barbaric dictator that lures useful idiots, cynical opportunities, and fifth columnists to parrot the lines of a corrupt and morally bankrupt Russian regime.
“After countless breaches of the broadcasting code and its obvious bias towards Putin’s regime, it is clear that it has no place on our screens.”
David TC Davies has previously said that he did not regret appearing on RT’s Sam Delaney’s News Thing.
Speaking to the Guardian he said: “The News Thing has given me a fair chance to explain my opinions on Brexit immigration and transgender issues, for which I am grateful.
“Sadly, I have not received the same courtesy from the British Broadcasting Corporation. Instead, on several occasions, its highly paid presenters have criticised me by name without giving me a right of response.”
‘Scale and gravity’
Ofcom’s Chief Executive Dame Melanie Dawes said: “Given the scale and gravity of the crisis in Ukraine, audiences expect to be able to trust and rely on duly impartial broadcast news.
“When reporting on an armed conflict, we recognise it can be difficult for broadcasters to verify information and events, but it is imperative that they make every effort to do so. They must also explain clearly to audiences where there is uncertainty or where events are disputed.
“Supporting a fair and free media is central to Ofcom’s work. We take this responsibility – and our duty to protect audiences and uphold trust in news – extremely seriously. Freedom of expression is a cornerstone of our approach and fundamental to our democracy.
“Given the serious on-going situation in Ukraine, we will be concluding our investigations into RT as a matter of urgency.”
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