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Putin’s TV Station ‘Stokes Fracking Fears’ To Prevent UK Shale Revolution

The Kremlin-backed television station RT has been accused of scaremongering about fracking in Britain to prevent the industry from developing.

A viable shale gas industry in Europe would reduce the continent’s reliance on gas imported from Russia.

Cuadrilla, which wants to extract shale gas in Lancashire, has complained to Ofcom that RT breached the broadcasting code by making false statements.

RT regularly interviews anti- fracking campaigners and some of its presenters make frequent comments attacking the technology.

Max Keiser, an American broadcaster who presents the Keiser Report with his wife Stacy Herbert, has said in broadcasts that “frackers are the moral equivalent of paedophiles” and fracking is giving British children cancer.

Francis Egan, chief executive of Cuadrilla, said: “RT’s broadcasts on UK shale gas frequently have no factual basis and seem designed to instil fear in the public. One assumes RT would prefer the UK and Europe to rely on poorly regulated imports of gas, primarily from Russia, rather than taking control of our own energy future.”

There has been no fracking in Britain since 2011 when it was temporarily banned after causing minor earthquakes in Lancashire. In May, Third Energy won permission to frack an existing gas well in North Yorkshire.

An episode of the Keiser Report last month featured a discussion with an anti-fracking activist, Tina Louise Rothery, who faces a £55,000 bill after a legal dispute with Cuadrilla over trespassing on a field that it rented near Blackpool.

During the discussion, Ms Herbert twice said Cuadrilla had been guilty of “dumping toxic waste off of [sic] Africa”. She appears to have confused Cuadrilla with Trafigura, which was accused of making thousands of people ill in Ivory Coast in 2006 by dumping toxic waste. The commodity trading company later paid Ivorians £30 million in an out-of court settlement without admitting liability. Ms Herbert said yesterday: “I apologise for mis-speaking.”

RT defended its coverage, referring to academic, geological and regulatory studies and reports about the industry’s risks and consequences.

Since the channel started broadcasting in the UK about a decade ago, Ofcom has upheld 15 complaints against it for breaching broadcasting rules, often on impartiality.

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