MOSCOW – Kremlin-controlled television channels criticized The Associated Press' international television service for cutting into its live feed of President Vladimir Putin's nearly four-hour call-in show to send footage from other developing news stories, including the attempted raid on a Ukrainian national guard base.
The video service, APTN Direct, is a closed-circuit channel that provides coverage of live events and breaking news to clients worldwide to use as they wish in their programs. It carries a large variety of live and breaking material, often interspersed, from various parts of the world.
On Thursday, 67 minutes into the Putin call-in show that lasted nearly four hours, APTN broke away to show images of the aftermath of a clash in Ukraine in which three pro-Russian protesters died. The break occurred in the course of a lengthy question by Irina Khakamada, who ran against Putin for president in 2004, about whether Russia and the U.S. could find compromise on the Ukraine crisis.
In the course of the question, she said the U.S. is offering $1 billion in aid to Ukraine so May 25 presidential elections can be held. Seconds later, APTN's feed cut away.
RT, a Kremlin-funded satellite TV channel, soon posted the fact that AP broke away on Twitter, and many of the tweets following it implied that happened because the message didn't conform with Western perceptions.
Later, government TV channel Rossiya-1 said: "We can suggest that American taxpayers were not supposed to hear this information," and in a reference to Soviet times, "even the USSR was acting more delicately when it was blocking transmission of the Voice of America."
AP's director of media relations, Paul Colford, said in a statement: "The Associated Press listened to the entirety of President Putin's televised call-in show. Our edited coverage in text, photos and video reflects the totality of a nearly four-hour event. Two of the four hours were covered live for international video subscribers. Those clients also got an edited version based on the whole event. Subscribers to the AP live video service were given a five-minute advance warning after an hour that our direct video feed would switch to coverage of other international stories developing at that time."
"One of those developing stories included new images from Ukraine showing the aftermath of an incident in which three pro-Russian protesters were killed and 13 people injured after an attempted raid on a Ukrainian base. President Putin had spoken mostly about Ukraine for the duration of the event. AP returned later to cover an additional hour of President Putin's comments live," Colford said.