Ukraine-Russia: Alex Salmond refuses to comment on future of his talk show as RT shut down in UK
Former first minister Alex Salmond has refused to be drawn on the future of his talk show which was formerly broadcast on Russian state news channel RT – as regulator Ofcom revoked the broadcast licence of the Russian channel with immediate effect.
Alba party leader Mr Salmond, who has presented the ‘Alex Salmond Show’ on the channel since 2017, said he would cancel his show on RT “until peace is re-established” shortly after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine began last month.
He told The Scotsman: “I took the decision to suspend the show on the day of the invasion. Since the decision was based on the illegal invasion and final, today’s Ofcom ruling has no impact upon it.”
He added: “What the future holds for the show is exactly that - for the future.”
It has also been suggested that the show could go online only, without affiliation to RT.
Mr Salmond added: “The show was only contracted for broadcast on RT and this always had a separate online platform with no RT branding. For example the Show was promoted on Facebook and the last one, with Sir Vince Cable on 24th February, secured 1.1 million views.”
Ofcom said its decision comes amid 29 ongoing investigations by Ofcom into the due impartiality of RT’s news coverage of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
It said: “We consider the volume and potentially serious nature of the issues raised within such a short period to be of great concern – especially given RT’s compliance history, which has seen the channel fined £200,000 for previous due impartiality breaches."
It added: “This investigation has taken account of a number of factors, including RT’s relationship with the Russian Federation. It has recognised that RT is funded by the Russian state, which has recently invaded a neighbouring sovereign country. We also note new laws in Russia which effectively criminalise any independent journalism that departs from the Russian state’s own news narrative, in particular in relation to the invasion of Ukraine. We consider that given these constraints it appears impossible for RT to comply with the due impartiality rules of our Broadcasting Code in the circumstances.”
RT is currently not on air in the UK, due to sanctions imposed by the EU since the invasion of Ukraine commenced.
Ofcom added: “We take seriously the importance, in our democratic society, of a broadcaster’s right to freedom of expression and the audience’s right to receive information and ideas without undue interference. We also take seriously the importance of maintaining audiences’ trust and public confidence in the UK’s broadcasting regulatory regime.
“Taking all of this into account, as well as our immediate and repeated compliance concerns, we have concluded that we cannot be satisfied that RT can be a responsible broadcaster in the current circumstances.”
Last month, Mr Salmond called the condemnation of opposition politicians of his show “blatant attacks on freedom of speech”, and claimed it had “whipped up a crescendo of personal abuse” towards former SNP MP Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh, who jointly runs the production company behind the programme.
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