Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Russian media integration

Media integration in Russia is done less directly than in China, but the results are very similar.

In Putin’s Russia, the hollowed-out media mirrors the state
Today, the three major Russian TV channels are either directly owned by the state, operating as state enterprises… or owned by a subsidiary of one of Russia’s largest oil and gas companies…

Members of Putin’s administration – today it’s his deputy chief of staff Alexey Gromov – control the political coverage and decide both what foreign and domestic policies are to be covered, and how and, more importantly, what is not to be covered…

The editors-in-chief of all the major media in Russia attend regular “strategy meetings” with Putin’s staffers. It’s like Fight Club: no member will admit to its existence – but it’s fairly easy to deduce, given how coordinated the coverage is on the most watched TV shows across all three major news channels…

In their minds, reporters working for state news outlets – which effectively are almost all news outlets in Russia – are public servants first and journalists second (if at all)…

Today, the Russian state employs both hard and soft power to further its grip on the country’s media. New restrictive laws are passed with dispiriting predictability: foreign media franchise owners are forced out of their stakes in international brands such as Forbes or Esquire based in Russia, fines and other penalties are introduced for not covering controversial subjects such as terrorism and drug abuse in terms that “do not explicitly discourage the behaviour”. Independent outlets are threatened into self-censorship and choked of the things they need to survive – such as cable services or access to print shops – if they don’t comply…

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