France's TV censor has warned the French arm of the propaganda channel, 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.
The German Culture Council (Deutscher Kulturrat) is the umbrella organization of the German cultural
associations such as groups representing art galleries and TV companies. It is a political and lobbying association and is funded by taxpayers.
Olaf Zimmermann, the head of the powerful cultural body has called for the banning of the nation's multitude of political talkshows for a year, claiming that they have helped fuel the rise of the far right.
Zimmermann said that public broadcasters needed to step back and rethink a format that has helped cement gloom-ridden public attitudes towards refugees and Islam, and propelled the Alternative f3cr Deutschland party into parliament at last
September's election. He said:
I'd suggest for them, take a break for a year ... though the length of the intermission isn't the decisive factor. What is crucial is that they return with new talkshow concepts and try to come up with more suitable contents with regards to
social cohesion in our society.
He particularly singled out public broadcasters ARD and ZDF as being obsessed with refugee-related issues, often framing them negatively.
Last week, ARD's main talkshow Hart Aber Fair - Hard But Fair - led with the question: To what extent is it possible to integrate young men who have fled from war and archaic societies? How unsafe is Germany as a result of them? The
programme was triggered by the murder of a 14-year-old German girl whose body was discovered in Wiesbaden last week. An Iraqi man is set to face trial.