Alex Salmond Russia Today show rapped by watchdogs over misleading tweets
Alex Salmond has been rapped by TV watchdogs after he misled viewers about a series of tweets in the first episode of his Russia Today show.
The Scottish former first minister read out a number of questions posed by people with connections to the show - but gave the impression they were from viewers, Ofcom has declared.
A new report by the watchdog decided that his move breached a key broadcast rule that news shows “must not materially mislead the audience”.
The Lib Dems piled into Mr Salmond over the blunder, but Russia Today lashed out at Ofcom and argued it had been censored for a “trivial teething problem”.
The investigation into The Alex Salmond Show was launched shortly after the first show was aired in November last year.
Ofcom said out of the six tweets read out by Mr Salmond, four were from connected parties - including one from a series director and one from a freelance makeup artist.
One question was even posed in a letter by a friend of Mr Salmond himself, but the correspondent requested for it to be read out with a Twitter handle.
TV Novosti - which holds the Russia Today licence in the UK - tried to argue that Mr Salmond did not specify that the tweets came from viewers.
But Ofcom said viewers would not have expected the correspondence to be from people linked to the show - and their use was “a misrepresentation of a factual matter and was misleading”.
The regulator further ruled that the breach was “materially misleading”, since trust in a current affairs programme “would have been undermined”.
'HARDLY A SURPRISE'
Liberal Democrat MP for Edinburgh West Christine Jardine told PoliticsHome the ruling was “hardly a surprise”.
She added: “All those waiting to see if Salmond's move away from frontline politics would lead to statesperson like behaviour must be disappointed.
“Most people thought that this latest project from Salmond was a terrible idea. Today's ruling is further evidence he will stop at nothing to prove his bad judgement.”
Russia Today said: “This was a notable and worrying example of Ofcom's orchestration of the media in this matter by publicizing without notice to RT the provisional findings for its decision in this case, in a statement made on April 18.
“This was before it had heard, let alone had time to consider, RT's representations on its preliminary view.
“This gives rise to grave concern over the fairness of Ofcom's process and agenda.
“The concern is heightened as Ofcom is using powers that exist for protection against serious matters to find a breach in relation to this trivial teething problem - a veritable sledgehammer to crack a nut.”
PoliticsHome provides the most comprehensive coverage of UK politics anywhere on the web, offering high quality original reporting and analysis: Subscribe