The Daily Record and Sunday Mail have published clarifications for claims that Alex Salmond’s Russia Today show was hit by falling viewer figures.
In December last year, the Reach-owned Scottish titles reported that viewers of The Alex Salmond Show had “plunged” and “plummeted”.
The former Scottish first minister filed accuracy complaints over the claims with press regulator the Independent Press Standards Organisation.
No ruling was issued by IPSO as Salmond said the clarifications in the two sister titles resolved the matter to his satisfaction.
The Daily Record’s article published on 30 December 2017 and headlined: “Salmond gets his kilt on,” said the ex-SNP leader’s show on the Kremlin-backed channel had fallen out of its top 10 most watched programmes earlier that month – a claim he disputed.
Salmond complained about two articles in the Sunday Mail.
One headlined: “Just 16k can be bothered Putin on TV for Alex” and published on 3 December 2017, said Salmond’s first RT show had just 16,000 viewers when it aired on 16 November 2017.
Another, headlined: “SNP icon Alex Salmond’s TV show sinks to new low as viewing figures plummet” and published online on 10 December, reported that Salmond’s show failed to make it into a top 10 position.
Salmond said he had not been approached before publication of the Daily Record piece and that the reports were “unduly influenced” by their editorial stances.
In his complaint about the Daily Record article, Salmond said Broadcasters’ Audience Research Board figures showed that his show had returned to the top 10 in the week ending 10 December with more viewers than it had in its opening week the month before.
The Alex Salmond Show had fallen out of the top 10 in the weekend ending 3 December.
Complaining about the Sunday Mail piece, the Russia Today-show host disputed the 16,000 viewers figure, saying “there were two other showings of the show, and therefore the likely total viewership was closer to 50,000 on TV, with many more on other platforms”.
He also claimed it was inaccurate for the second Sunday Mail piece to suggest views had “plummeted” as his tenth show had a viewership of 18,000 and “could still have had more viewers than in the previous week”.
Both publications denied any breach of IPSO’s accuracy rules, but removed the phrases “despite plunging viewing figures” and “as viewing figures plummet” from online articles that were subject to Salmond’s complaints.
He claimed that the removal of those phrases was an “admission” of them being “significant” inaccuracies.
IPSO mediated both complaints, but before rulings on either were handed down, the Daily Record and Sunday Mail published clarifications.
The shared clarification read: “In our articles of 10 and 30 December, we stated that the Alex Salmond Show, broadcast on RT International, had suffered plummeting and plunging viewing figures.
“We are happy to clarify that, based on figures available at the time, the show had dropped out of the top ten most watched RT programmes, but the actual viewing numbers were not available.
“However, figures released in time for the 30th December article indicate that the show was at number 6 for the week ending 10 December with 19,000 viewers and we apologise for this inaccuracy.”
Salmond was rapped by broadcast regulator Ofcom in July this year after it was found that four out of six tweets read out on the show’s pilot episode came from people with a connection either to the programme or Salmond himself.