The Public Commission for Media Complaints found a program broadcast by Russian national television network NTV, one of the main vehicles of state propaganda, attacking MDIF and Russian independent media as “unsubstantiated and false”.
“Debtors of the State Department” triggered outrage in the Russian media community when it was broadcast on 4 March. It described MDIF as an agent of the U.S. State Department and accused independent media of being mouthpieces of U.S. foreign policy.
The Russian Union of Journalists and other major professional associations protested the program’s distortion of the truth. In a joint statement, the Alliance of Independent Regional Publishers (ANRI), the Guild of Press Publishers (GIPP), the Association of Printed Press Distributors (ARPP) and the Alliance of the Managers of the Regional Media (ARS-PRESS) said: “We are outraged by the fact that the program ‘Debtors of the State Department’ masquerades false facts as investigative journalism. We believe that such manipulation of information discredits our profession.”
MDIF clients whose reputation was damaged by the program applied to the Public Commission for Media Complaints, requesting it to provide a professional assessment of NTV’s conduct. After a hearing on April 28, the Commission concluded (read the findings here in Russian) that: “This unsubstantiated and false NTV program causes reputational damage not only to specific media companies, but also to the Russian media community as a whole, presenting reputable regional media companies, which have operated in the market for many years, as a tool of manipulation from abroad. This program is detrimental to Russian society and the state, and worsens the already heated atmosphere in society, pushing its television audience to look for mythical internal enemies.”
Read Follow the Media’s take on the dismissal of three senior editors at Russian business news publisher RBC, seemingly because they encouraged investigative journalism and reporting on the Panama Papers.