Setting the story straight about RT

RT vs Deutsche Welle: Facts about RT’s comments at the re:publica conference

DW published a detailed overview of a media conference in Berlin, and a particular discussion that took place between a panel of media experts, including Inga Thordar (CNN), Salah Negm (Al Jazeera English), Oksana Boyko (RT) and Peter Limbourg (Deutsche Welle). A big part of the recap is devoted to Ms. Boyko’s comments and her answers to the many critiques leveled at her as a result of RT’s choice editorial approach in the context of journalistic impartiality. At the end of the DW piece, the journalist claims that the normally outspoken Boyko was reluctant to directly reply to the main question – whether she even trusts her own channel, RT, or not.

Маy 16, 2016

In the actual video of the discussion, (the question is asked at 30:56) Oksana does in fact answer by saying “I think that you have to be critical and skeptical about everything that you watch. Am I biased, absolutely, I have my own opinions, and very strong ones” and goes on to elaborate on importance of personal experiences in coverage, and the audience trust that she, and RT, have built through their work over time. Maybe it wasn’t the answer DW wanted to hear, however it was undeniably an answer.

RT vs The Daily Beast (they just can’t stay away from us): Facts about “the Syrian Devastation footage”

The Daily Beast writes that in covering a bombing in Syria, the “Russian propaganda channel RT got a hold of [media activist] al-Abdallah’s reel and edited out the references to “warplanes” and “Assad,” then pinned the devastation on al-Qaeda. RT’s Arabic-language website not only stole the media activist’s footage without his permission, it then cut his original commentary to suit its own purpose of trying to blame the violation of a U.S.-Russian brokered “cessation of hostilities” on jihadists not party to the agreement.”

Маy 16, 2016

In reality, RT legally acquired the rights to the footage from Associated Press, which purchased the video from al-Abdallah and removed his commentary before passing it on to RT. RT received the footage without the commentary and used it on its platforms without editing it in any way. If only the Daily Beast reached out to RT before leveling such a serious charge, they would have been provided with this information. However not only did they not ask RT to comment, but also ignored a correction request sent to them after the article was published.

RT vs Politico: Facts about RT’s audience and budget

Ok, not really fiction, but Politico has a hard time accepting documented facts about RT, saying that “U.S. officials say the American viewership is much lower than RT’s estimate of 8 million per week …They are also skeptical of RT’s claim to have a budget of only $250 million worldwide. In March, Republican Senator Rob Portman cited reports saying the cost of the network’s Washington bureau alone could be $400 million, though RT adamantly denies that, and the original source of the report is unclear.”

April 29, 2016

RT’s U.S. audience numbers aren’t our estimate, but results of an independent study by Ipsos, world’s top-3 market research company. Likewise, when it comes to RT’s funding, Politico gives equal narrative weight to RT’s budget, which is made public annually in a federal government report, and the entirely mad figure that a U.S. Senator pulled out of thin air. Even though Politico author admits that there’s no apparent source for the second figure, it’s right there being quoted anyway, on equal footing. Just another day of MSM reporting on RT.

RT vs The Daily Beast, yet again: facts about… oh, just about everything concerning RT

Referencing its own recent opus, The Daily Beast writes that RT “inflates its global ratings to justify a ridiculously high annual budget, prospectively set to be close to half a billion dollars this year”

October 08, 2015

Please refer to these short-and-sweet entries for up-to-date numbers about RT’s TV audience, RT’s record-breaking online achievements, and facts about RT’s budget. This is getting redundant, but apparently still necessary…

READ MORE ABOUT THE DAILY BEAST’S OBSESSION WITH RT AND RUSSIA HIT-PIECES HERE

RT vs The Daily Beast: Part 3 – Facts about RT’s budget

Pretty much all the news organizations’ budget numbers presented in The Daily Beast’s “Putin’s Propaganda TV Lies About Its Popularity”: “A graph shows that the network’s annual costs are more than double those of Al Jazeera, which made television rankings in 32 countries when looking at both its Arabic- and English-language varieties. Another competitor, Euronews, cost $9,200,000 to RT’s $168,300,000—and made ratings in 12 countries to RT’s one. The BBC cost $222 million….”

September 25, 2015

First of all, there’s no actual graph. That’s right, DB is referring to a graph it fails to show, and uses figures seemingly pulled out of thin air, without citing a single source (name? link? nothing). So let’s look at and compare figures that actually ARE publicly available.

RT’s 2014 budget was 11.87 billion rubles. At 1H2014 exchange rate of 33 rubles to 1 dollar, that was $360 million (by the end of 2014 that figure fell below $200 million; meanwhile about 80% of RT’s operating expenses, particularly those related to distribution, are FX-denominated). Comparatively, the BBG (which includes Voice of America) received $721 million from the US government, and the BBC World Service – £245 million ($405 million); the BBG and the BBC WS are predominantly online and radio services, and producing and distributing content for these platforms is dramatically cheaper than creating video material and broadcasting it via cable and satellite. There’s also the BBC’s “International Service” – the newsgathering department of BBC News (budget - $530 million), which is part of the British Broadcasting Corporation (budget – over $7 billion), and it supplies content to BBC World Service AND BBC World News, the UK’s global news channel and RT’s closest counterpart. Formally, BBC World News is set up as a private entity (it is owned by BBC Global News Ltd, the commercial arm of the BBC) and its budget is unknown.

Also: Al Jazeera reportedly spent half a billion dollars just to buy Current TV to further their US reach. Deutsche Welle’s budget recently has been increased to €294 million. And Euronews (which reportedly spends upwards of €50 million annually) employs an entirely distinct operating model, where local channels of EU countries supply it with video content. FACT: The Daily Beast’s numbers just don’t add up.

READ MORE ON RT FINANCING AND COMPARISON WITH COMPETITORS HERE

RT vs The Daily Beast: Part 2 – Facts about RT’s online audience

Continuing its attack on RT in “Putin’s Propaganda TV Lies About Its Popularity” The Daily Beast tries to make a case that RT’s massive online presence is, in fact, irrelevant, by claiming that on YouTube, “of all the YouTube clips watched over five years, 81 percent—344 million views went to videos of natural disasters, accidents, crime, and natural phenomenon.” AND “RT’s political news videos, featuring the content by which it seeks to shape Western opinion and thus justify its existence, accounted for a mere 1 percent of its total YouTube exposure, with fewer than 4 million views.” AND “highest-trafficked videos on YouTube, for instance, apparently pertain to 'metrosexuals, bums, etc.' rather than anything political.”

September 25, 2015

The number given in the report (3-year-old report!!!) on which The Daily Beast bases its story isn’t even close to reality: from 2007 to 2012 RT garnered 850 million views. Today (and in fact, since 2013) RT is #1 TV news network in the world on YouTube with 2.7 billion views (1.5 billion of that is on its flagship English-language channel). As for RT’s YouTube lineup, we picked our highest-ranking stuff – and to help the Beasties we left out all of our news-related content that included dramatic pictures – obviously, the most viral content on any video platform (no, not "metrosexuals, bums etc" but protests, riots, raw war zone footage): have a look at just our top-10 political videos that together have amassed over 12 million views.

And by the way, RT is now the world leader among non-Anglo-Saxon international TV news channels, and ahead of many international news outlets, including Al Jazeera, Deutsche Welle and Voice of America in terms of worldwide PC audience. Can’t wait to see how DB will try to discredit THAT.

RT vs The Daily Beast: Part 1 – Facts about RT’s TV audience

In a piece titled “Putin’s Propaganda TV Lies About Its Popularity” The Daily Beast references a two year-old “leaked” document from a source that was never even affiliated with RT to claim that RT’s Nielsen-measured audience statistics are made up because the channel “is not present in Nielsen ratings for the U.S.”, and repeats the leaked claim that “RT has never divulged a single, absolute figure confirmed by measurements of its audience. All the press releases put out by the channel about its viewing abroad are based on playing with relative numbers”.

September 25, 2015

RT regularly conducts and publishes studies of its audience in key markets. In 2014 Nielsen research (commissioned by RT) found that 2.8 million people in seven major US urban areas (Washington, New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia and San Diego) watch RT weekly. That’s greater than the audience of Euronews, Deutsche Welle, NHK or France 24. All of RT’s research announcements (Nielsen and others) are always approved by the agency performing them prior to announcement, but the agencies themselves almost never publish results of private studies – not just for RT but for other clients, as the use of the results is the client’s prerogative. Inclusion in public Nielsen ratings isn’t automatic either; a channel is required to pay a fee, which is substantial for RT’s rather conservative budget. The Daily Beast absolutely disregards these industry practices.

According to a different 2014 Nielsen study, RT’s Arabic-language news channel has higher daily audience in six MENA countries than UK’s BBC Arabic and Sky News Arabia, US’ Al Hurra and China’s CCTV in Arabic, placing it among the top three most watched news channels in the six surveyed states. In Egypt, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, UAE and Iraq RT Arabic is watched by 6.7 million viewers every day. In the UK, RT’s audience is over half a million viewers weekly, according to BARB public information, and is over 3 times greater than the audience of Fox News and roughly double that of Euronews when it was still measured by BARB (January 2014). And that’s just a small sampling of data that The Daily Beast chose to ignore or twist to fit their story.

READ MORE ABOUT THE DAILY BEAST’S SMEAR CAMPAIGN AGAINST RT HERE

RT vs The Guardian: Facts about “Ofcom’s sanctions”

The Guardian’s sensational headline claims that “RT [has been] sanctioned by Ofcom over series of misleading and biased articles”.

September 22, 2015

The claim is simply factually inaccurate and presents a highly distorted account of the UK’s regulator’s decision regarding to RT. RT has not been sanctioned in any way. It has been directed to broadcast summaries of two of the decisions but it is clear that Ofcom did not think that the breaches justified consideration of a sanction against RT under its sanctions procedures. Additionally, the directions were not given over a “series” of programmes, but in relation to two of them. The Guardian has not responded to demand for correction.

READ MORE ABOUT OFCOM’S DECISION IN THE CONTEXT OF UK MEDIA HERE

RT vs DW: Facts about “refugees in Buchenwald”

Deutsche Welle’s Russian portal refers to claims of refugees being housed of on the grounds of an old Nazi labor camp Buchenwald as “nonsense” disseminated by the “boulevard press”, specifically Russia’s news outlets RT and Sputnik (which DW claims are part of the same media organization).

September 19, 2015

It is true that several international news media outlets, including RT, have recently reported refugees being housed in a former Nazi camp in Germany. However, the initial report on the issue came from The Australian, was picked up by the Daily Mail, and then cited by various international media, which included the UK’s Mirror and Express, Israeli Haaretz and i24, and the US’ regional CBS outpost among others (all “boulevard press,” in DW’s view?). DW goes to pains to avoid all mention of the original source or name any other outlets that picked up the story, besides Sputnik and RT.

On top of bashing RT, the first half of the article makes it sound like the entire story is an utter fabrication. In fact, it was an inaccuracy: asylum seekers were being housed not specifically at the former Buchenwald concentration camp, but on the territory of its satellite labor camp located a few hours away. RT updated the article as soon it was revealed that the report cited had provided inaccurate information. DW, meanwhile, refused to acknowledge that it has completely misrepresented the story. Furthermore, its editors absurdly demanded proof of RT and Sputnik NOT belonging to the same media group, because they could not find confirmation supporting such fact on our website. Does it mean, then, that if DW’s website does not include explicit statements verifying that it is NOT part of Euronews, BBC or Spiegel, that it is in fact part of those media organizations?

READ MORE ABOUT DW’S PECULIAR TREATMENT OF THE BUCHENWALD STORY HERE

RT vs RFE/RL: Facts about MH17 footage and Julie Bishop’s comments

RFE/RL article claimed that RT has “has heavily redacted previously unreleased footage of the MH17 crash site” and redacted a statement by Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, saying that RT’s “selective editing… dropped any reference to a Russian Buk surface-to-air missile from a statement reacting to the release of the video.”

July 27, 2015

RT never redacted or edited in any way any of the footage. RT’s article used the same 4:12 min video that was made available to all other news outlets, the same one published by Australia’s Daily Telegraph. Moreover, the video was embedded in full from a third-party YouTube source, and was confirmed by News Corp to be the authentic video that they released. And RT quoted Ms. Bishop’s interview to Sky News (video here; transcript here), where Ms. Bishop says the quote exactly as it appears in the RT article. Following RT’s demand for retraction, RFE/RL eventually removed the first claim from their article, but refused to change the second one, even though it is obviously false.

RT vs Der Spiegel: facts about MH17 coverage

German weekly news magazine claims that in its coverage of the Malaysian plane crash in eastern Ukraine last year, RT "was certain that the plane was shot down by a Ukrainian jet."

May 8, 2015

Contrary to the assertion, RT never claimed that a Ukrainian jet caused the MH17 crash. Rather than jumping to conclusions (contrary to most of the mainstream media outlets - in a case that is still being investigated), RT presenters and journalists reported and discussed many different theories of the crash, and sourced comments from a wide range of experts. Furthermore, Ofcom, the UK media regulator, has assessed whether RT’s coverage of the MH17 crash was biased following several viewer complaints, and has not found any problems that merited investigation nor any breach of standards.

RT vs The Independent: facts about RT budget (AGAIN...)

It’s lonely when your peers leave you out of their fun. The Independent obviously felt isolated as the likes of BBC and the Guardian continued to over-inflate RT’s budget. The paper’s former Moscow correspondent, Rupert Cornwell, pulls an estimate of “$500 million, and growing” out of somewhere and rolls with it. Yet he also insinuates that RT’s finances are a ‘mystery’ – even though the information about them is widely available, and he even provided a figure himself (albeit an incorrect one).

April 24, 2015

It seems that whatever the facts of the case are, they fall on willingly deaf ears. At current exchange rates, RT’s budget stands at roughly $275 million, or 2.5 times less than that of the US-government funded BBG ($721 million) that the column appears to favor.

Furthermore, the Independent makes reference to China’s CCTV and that its finances are “an even greater mystery” (than those of RT). Whatever is the case with CCTV, RT’s finances are not a mystery. In fact, you can read all about them here.

RT vs Lukas Alpert at Slate: facts about Foreign Ministry "handlers"

Lukas Alpert used to be a media reporter at The Wall Street Journal so you’d expect him to be fairly accurate on matters of the press. He appeared on Slate’s The Gist podcast with Mike Pesca to promote a mini-book about RT, getting quite a few basic facts about RT wrong. Among those: that RT “almost don’t (sic) cover Russia at all;” that RT coordinates its activities with the Russian Foreign Ministry to prepare news packages supporting FM issues of the day; and that, according to former RT employees, “Foreign Ministry handlers” vet all of RT’s political reporting.

April 20, 2015

Firstly, RT provides more coverage of Russian news and events than any other non-Russian language international broadcaster. For example, the recent Boris Nemtsov mourning rally was the lead story on RT’s hourly news bulletins from 8 am till midnight, with live updates published across our websites and social media platforms throughout the day. International news outlets from The Guardian to Buzzfeed frequently rely on RT live feeds for their own liveblogs or for translations.

The notion of “Foreign Ministry handlers” and shadowy coordination, one of Alpert's favorite talking points, is so far removed from reality it crosses into conspiracy theory. Staying on top of international events is something that any journalist worth his or her salt should be capable of doing. It doesn’t take a genius (or covert coordination), after a year or two of travelling in the so-called journalist “pool,” to predict what the Foreign (or Prime, or Defense) Minister might say on the story of the day, or what his reaction to a certain event might be. What you really need is to know the background of the story. With the number of issues that dominate the news agenda at any given day being fairly limited, this is something that should be expected of any professional journalist or news outlet. Basic preparedness is all it takes.

RT vs U.S. Congressional Hearing: facts about conspiracy theories

The April 15 hearing on "Russia’s Weaponization of Information" held by the House Committee on Foreign Affairs was rife with exaggerations and misinformation about RT. Among testimonies provided were that of former RT presenter Liz Wahl, who told of a "conspiracy theory" that RT had allegedly created around her departure from the channel, namely that Wahl was a "puppet intent on reigniting the Cold War." Another speaker was Helle Dale, a senior fellow at The Heritage Foundation, who made the outlandish claim that “reportedly, RT has a budget alone of $400 million for its Washington bureau.” Despite publicly available information that contradicts it, the American-government funded broadcaster Voice of America (VoA) reprinted the statement without questioning the accuracy of the figure.

April 16, 2015

The award-winning political website TruthDig published an independent investigative report titled "How Cold War-Hungry Neocons Stage Managed RT Anchor Liz Wahl's Resignation." The report detailed the circumstances around Wahl's exit, revealed the involvement of the Foreign Policy Initiative think tank and suggested that Wahl was exploited by a “cadre of neoconservatives.. [who were] desperate to revive the Cold War, [and] head off cuts to the [US] defence budget." RT had no involvement in putting out any such narrative, as Ms. Wahl claims. In fact, RT learned of the alleged ties between Ms. Wahl and the FPI from the report itself.

On the question of financing, contrary to Ms. Dale's testimony, RT’s entire annual budget is not even close to $400 million, let alone that of its Washington operation. At the current exchange rate it stands at roughly $275 million, significantly below not just that of the U.S.-government funded BBG ($721 million) but most other competitors.

READ MORE ABOUT THE CONGRESSIONAL HEARING HERE

RT vs The Times columnist: facts about RT financing and MH17 reporting

In The (London) Times, columnist Roger Boyes perpetuates the myth that RT is "lavishly funded" with annual budget of $400 million and rails against RT's coverage of MH17 crash in eastern Ukraine in July 2014.

April 10, 2015

Boyes' $400 million figure is greatly exaggerated - in fact, the real figure is currently around $245 million, significantly less than BBC World Service and a third of the US' BBG. And Ofcom, the UK media regulator, has assessed whether RT’s coverage of the MH17 crash was biased following several viewer complaints, and has not found any problems that merited investigation nor any breach of standards.

READ MORE ON RT FINANCING AND COMPARISON WITH COMPETITORS HERE

RT vs Bloomberg: facts about RT’s social media ‘trolls’

Bloomberg Politics global news portal insists that “Sanctions-Strapped Russia Outguns the U.S. in Information War” and cites former U.S. State Department intelligence officer and NATO adviser Angela Stent as saying that “RT is amplified by social media disguised to look like ordinary people’s accounts...Its social media use is “very sophisticated,” she said, and includes “people who troll and immediately bite back” at critics.’”

April 8, 2015

Bloomberg takes an unsubstantiated opinion of one person and presents it as fact to fit its narrative about RT. Ironically, by doing this the outlet is doing exactly that of which it accuses RT. The reporter, Nicole Gaouette, further fails to substantiate claims about alleged RT social media trolls or challenge Stent’s statements. The statement quoted is simply false. RT does not use disguised accounts, nor social media trolls, nor does it control “bot” accounts on social media. In fact, at any time RT’s English-language social media team is staffed with a maximum of four people - a fraction of the numbers at other networks. Furthermore, contrary to Bloomberg’s claim that “requests for comment from… RT weren’t answered,” RT’s press office has not received any such request from Bloomberg or Ms. Gaouette.

RT vs Newsweek: facts about RT's MH17 coverage

The magazine cites Ofcom criticism of RT's coverage of the Ukraine crisis, and adds that "last year RT suggested that Ukraine was to blame for the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, prompting one of its London correspondents to resign."

March 23, 2015

Newsweek avoids all mention of the fact that RT was cleared of bias charges in coverage of the MH17 tragedy. Ofcom (the UK broadcasting regulator) reviewed more than 30 hours of RT's reporting on the event, and has not found any problems that merited investigation, nor any breach of standards. Furthermore, RT was practically the only major media outlet to explore multiple possible scenarios of the event, while the mainstream media confidently assigned blame hours after it happened. Evidently Newsweek finds a mere "suggestion" of an alternative theory of the crash problematic, despite the fact that no conclusions as to the causes of the crash have yet been reached.

RT vs Lithuanian Defense Ministry: facts about RT’s financing

Lithuanian news portal Lrytas.lt quotes Lithuanian Defense Minister as saying that the entire defense budget of Lithuania (€352 million / $380 million) is less than the budget of RT, which, according to him, is $400 million for 2015.

March 3, 2015

RT’s actual budget is nearly half that sum, approximately $225 million. RT was not contacted with request for comment and the news portal did not print the correction at RT’s request.

READ MORE ON RT FINANCING AND COMPARISON WITH COMPETITORS HERE

RT vs New Statesman: facts about RT financing and competition

UK's weekly New Statesman writes that RT "has seen its budget reportedly increased by over 40% in recent years." After RT's request for correction, it adds that "the exchange rate between the rouble and sterling makes (sic) this less significant than it might otherwise seem." The context is alleged struggles and disadvantage of BBC World Service in the face of international competition.

March 2, 2015

New Statesman did not correct the erroneous statement about our financing, which in ruble terms increased approximately 17% year on year, and in foreign exchange term actually fell to £140 million. About 80% of RT’s expenditures are denominated in foreign currency. Meanwhile, BBC World Service – predominantly radio and online broadcaster – receives £245 million, plus it uses newsgathering and newsroom resources of BBC News (budget - £350 million).

READ MORE ON FINANCING OF RT VS BBC HERE

RT vs The Australian: facts about RT-Foxtel deal

Australia’s nation-wide newspaper The Australian “reveals” that “Russia is paying [cable and satellite operator] Foxtel an estimated $2 million a year to broadcast its state-owned channel, Russia Today” even though “Foxtel refused to answer questions about how much payment it was receiving.” The figure was drawn from “senior television industry.”

February 23, 2015

The Australian does not name the sources it relies on to speculate about the deal. The information presented is incorrect and the figure quoted is not representative. RT was not contacted for a comment and ignored request for correction when a comment was supplied.

RT vs The Examiner: facts about new Ukrainian army law

Julia Davis of The Examiner writes about a new Ukrainian law, slams Newsweek for “parrot[ing] RT’s false narrative” by erroneously stating that commanders can use force against servicemen who drink alcohol while on duty. She then supposedly exposes another “blatant lie disseminated by RT” – that, according to the aforementioned law, “deserters will be shot on sight.”

February 7, 2015

Never does the RT story in question state either of those things. In fact, RT’s story doesn’t discuss any kind of punishment for alcohol consumption at all. Regarding weapon use, RT writes that "The new article 22(1) added to the charter regulating service in the armed forces of Ukraine states that commanders ‘have the right to personally use physical force, special means and weapons when in combat’ against soldiers who commit ‘criminal acts’.” This statement agrees with the letter of the law.

ALSO: Davis previously made false claims about RT, and failed to correct her mistakes when they were brought to her attention. Despite calling herself an investigative journalist, Davis repeatedly ignores or makes up easily verifiable facts, particularly when writing about RT, in an apparent effort to smear the channel.

Read more on RT Op-Edge: Out of facts? Stick to cats: Examiner's pitiful attempt at dissing RT.

RT vs BBC Two: facts about Russia’s UN envoy Vitaly Churkin, his daughter and RT

In a live interview with journalist and host of RT’s 'Going Underground,' Afshin Rattansi, BBC Two’s Daily Politics host Andrew Neil stated as fact that RT reporter Anastasia Churkina had interviewed her father Vitaly Churkin (Russian Ambassador to the United Nations) “live on air.” The point was brought up – in an over-the-top, theatrical manner – as a shocking example of poor journalism at RT, and as a point of derision against the channel.

UPDATE: BBC publicly apologized for making this false claim about Anastasia Churkina and RT.

January 8, 2015

Churkina has never interviewed her father for RT – not “live on air,” nor in any other format. Neil had no grounds on which to make this claim, yet did so – not to the journalist in question or RT network editors, but to another RT journalist who cannot be expected to speak on behalf of all RT reporters. The declaration, thus, appeared to be an attempt to discredit the channel with a sensationalist yet fully unfounded allegation.

RT vs BBC World Service: facts about RT and BBC financing

The former head of BBC World Service Peter Horrock complains to The Guardian that the World Service is being “financially outgunned” by foreign news channels, RT included, and “Britain and the US are losing a global ‘information war’ with the Kremlin.”

December 21, 2014

At 13.85 billion rubles, or £143 million, RT’s financing is significantly less than that of the BBC World Service, whose budget is £245 million. This is before taking into account the fact that World Service is an online and radio service only, and producing and distributing content for these platforms is dramatically cheaper than creating video material and broadcasting it via cable and satellite. Despite all of this information being public, The Guardian never challenges Horrocks statements, which fits into the newspaper’s recent pattern of propagating myths about RT’s financing, even quoting faux-media experts Pussy Riot on the issue.

READ MORE ON RT FINANCING AND COMPARISON WITH COMPETITORS HERE.