The New Arab Logo

Breaking News
French media watchdog warns Russia's RT over Syria report Open in fullscreen

The New Arab & agencies

French media watchdog warns Russia's RT over Syria report

French culture minister Francoise Nyssen announces new draft reform law covering media [Getty]

Date of publication: 29 June, 2018

Share this page:
  • 0

  • twitter
A controversial June draft law would make it easier for France to censor broadcasters like Russia Today in efforts to combat "fake news".

France's broadcasting regulator warned on Thursday the French arm of Russia Today over a news report that dubbed over the voices of Syrian civilians with words they had not said.

France's Audiovisual Council (CSA) accused the state-backed broadcaster with "failures of honesty, rigour of information and diversity of viewpoints".

The news report, aired on 13 April, "contested the reality of chemical weapons attacks in the Syrian region of Eastern Ghouta," the CSA said. 

It noted that the testimony of a Syrian witness had been dubbed with a voice saying "words that bore no resemblance with what he had said".

The CSA added that another witness had been dubbed with a voiceover saying that local residents had been ordered by militant group Jaysh al-Islam to simulate the effects of a chemical attack, "but the testimony did not mention any particular group".

The CSA further said the report demonstrated "an imbalance in analysis" of the situation in Syria and that "on a subject this sensitive, the different points of view should have been expressed".

CSA chief Olivier Schrameck said in late 2017 that the agency would be watching the channel constantly and would respond promptly to "anomalies". 

Russia Today has also faced multiple warnings from Britain's media regulator Ofcom over reports on Syria and Ukraine, where Russian soldiers are based. 

French President Emmanuel Macron has been a sharp critic of Russia Today. During his presidential campaign, he called the broadcaster, along with Sputnik news service, of being "propaganda organs" of the Russian state. 

Draft French legislation meant to combat "fake news" includes strengthened regulatory power to remove foreign broadcasters off the air if they attempt to "destabilise" the country. 

Politicians from across France's political spectrum criticised the draft law, which was released in June, as trying to create a form of "thought police". Many observers warned it could lead to censorship. 

Russia entered Syria's civil war in September 2015, sending planes to back the regime of Bashar al-Assad and tipping the military situation in Damascus's favour.

Following the Douma chemical weapons massacre earlier this year, Russia called attack that left at least 49 dead a "provocation" and "fake news". Moscow has also claimed it has "irrefutable evidence" the chemical attack was "staged" with the help of the UK.

Agencies contributed to this report.

Follow us on Twitter: @The_NewArab

The New ArabComments

Most Popular

Most Popular

    Read More