Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity and Save the Children are among four charities which have pulled adverts from the Russian news channel RT after a newspaper questioned why they were advertising on a channel funded and controlled by the Russian government.
The conservation charity WWF-UK and international development charity Plan International also took their adverts off-air after The Guardian approached them to explain why they were advertising on RT, which was formerly known as Russia Today and is considered by critics as a propaganda outlet for the Kremlin’s foreign policy.
Mike Colling, managing director of the media planning agency MC&C, told Third Sector that it was possible for a charity to end up advertising on a channel without realising if an agency bought advertising space on multiple stations in bulk and the charity did not look into the details. But he said: "As a matter of due diligence, charities should know who they are advertising with."
A spokeswoman for GOSH confirmed that the charity had stopped advertising on the channel.
She told Third Sector that GOSH had been unaware that the UK had been looking into sanctions against Russia over its role in the bombing of the Syrian city of Aleppo.
"Following information presented to us about the news channel and its relationship with the Russian government, we have suspended our relationship with the channel and have directed them to take the advertisement off air," she said.
A spokeswoman for Save said that the charity – which has worked extensively around the conflict in Syria – was aware that it was advertising on RT when approached by The Guardian but is now no longer doing so.
Mike Thiedke, director of public engagement at Plan International UK, said: "We have instructed our agency to no longer advertise with the channel. We continually review and assess our advertising to ensure it meets with the high standards our supporters expect of us."
A spokesman for WWF-UK said: "We have pulled all advertising spend from Russia Today."
The charities declined to say which agency had booked the advertising space on the channel.
Colling said that it made little sense from a fundraising perspective to advertise on RT. "Never mind the politics of it, just from an advertising point of view, why would you?" he said.
"It is very effective if you want to buy gold bullion. It is significantly less effective if you are seeking the liberal, educated, socially-engaged audience that forms the core of most organisations’ donors."
He said MC&C had not bought space for any charities on the channel in the past five years.