June 28, 2018 / 6:09 PM / 18 days ago

French regulator warns Russian TV on Syria misinformation

PARIS, June 28 (Reuters) - France’s media regulator has issued Russian TV channel RT with a warning over misrepresenting facts in a programme about Syria.

The Conseil Superieur de l’Audiovisuel (CSA) said in a statement that an April 13 programme about Syria had displayed a “lack of honesty, rigour and diversity of points of view”.

In a news item headlined “Simulated Attacks”, RT contested whether chemical attacks in the eastern Syria region of Ghouta had happened and accused a local group of staging the effects of the attack on the population. RT had not faithfully translated comments of Syrian witnesses, the CSA said.

“The CSA notes that there was a marked imbalance in the analysis, which, on a topic as sensitive as this, did not lay out the different points of view,” the CSA said.

RT was not immediately available for comment.

The CSA imposed no sanctions on RT, but the regulator has the authority to fine a broadcaster or suspend its licence.

RT’s French-language broadcast is only available to TV subscribers of French telecoms group Free, not via the other three operators. It can also be watched on the internet or via satellite.

French President Emmanuel Macron has described RT, formerly called Russia Today, as a tool for “influence-peddling”.

Accused of spreading misinformation during Macron’s 2012 presidential campaign, RT was banned from his campaign headquarters.

During a joint news conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Versailles last year, Macron said the broadcaster and Russian press agency Sputnik had on several occasions spread fake news and deceitful propaganda.

Russia has denied any interference in the French election. (Reporting by Gwénaëlle Barzic; Writing by Geert De Clercq; Editing by Andrew Roche)

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