Alex Salmond criticises UK media bias on Russian TV

Mr Salmond dismissed criticism from the Tories. Picture: Lisa FergusonMr Salmond dismissed criticism from the Tories. Picture: Lisa Ferguson
Mr Salmond dismissed criticism from the Tories. Picture: Lisa Ferguson
ALEX Salmond was last night caught up in a row after it emerged he will use a Kremlin-backed broadcaster to complain about British media bias.

The SNP’s opponents were critical of the former leader’s decision to appear on Russia Today (RT), a channel which has come under fire for broadcasting pro-Putin propaganda.

Today Mr Salmond will mount yet another attack on the UK media, including the BBC, when he appears on the RT programme “Going Underground”.

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Mr Salmond will use the programme, screened at 9.30am, to plug his referendum diaries “The Dream Will Never Die”.

He will also tell RT that the BBC veered towards being a “state broadcaster” during the referendum, adding: “The clue is in the name – the British Broadcasting Corporation”.

On the programme, the former First Minister repeats his view that he was “blind-sided” by the way the corporation covered the referendum.

Mr Salmond says he did not anticipate that the BBC would be “such a mouthpiece of Tory government propaganda”.

He also criticised the “deadwood” print media, saying it was only the cohesion of the Yes campaign that enabled it to “withstand these assaults from the media”.

But last night the Conservative MSP Murdo Fraser criticised Mr Salmond for making his criticisms on a channel, which itself has faced accusations of partiality.

Mr Fraser said: “It is extraordinary that Alex Salmond complains bitterly about the bias of the BBC, which is one of the world’s most credible and respected broadcasters.

“Yet he finds time to appear on Putin’s house TV station, which has been criticised for political bias.”

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RT has been threatened with sanctions by the broadcasting watchdog Ofcom after breaching the broadcasting code on four counts of impartiality over its coverage of the Ukraine crisis.

The channel, which had £183 million ploughed into it by President Putin, has previously been criticised for promoting a pro-Kremlin view of world affairs.

It has faced accusations of bias including complaints from members of its own staff who resigned over its stance on the Ukraine crisis. RT was summoned to a meeting with Ofcom last year after four separate reports, all broadcast last March and all dealing with the situation in Ukraine, were judged to have breached the code governing UK broadcasters.

RT, which began broadcasting in the UK nine years ago and a launched a dedicated UK channel last year, has previously breached UK broadcasting regulations on 10 occasions on a wide range of issues, including due impartiality, graphic images, and issues related to advertising.

Mr Salmond’s views on President Putin have caused controversy in the past.

Last year the Gordon MP expressed his admiration for “certain aspects” of Mr Putin’s leadership and praised the way Russia’s national pride has been restored.

The First Minister said it was a “good thing” confidence had returned to the country and called the Russian president “more effective” than his portrayal by the press suggests.

Speaking ahead of the broadcast of his RT interview, Mr Salmond said last night: “I appear on many television stations internationally, as does every other politician I know, of every party.

“Murdo Fraser’s problem is that he doesn’t seem to get invited.

“It’s a daft comment, even by Murdo’s standards.”