Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Media in Wonderland

Isolation, control of reporting, and rewards for your supporters — that's what Putin gets with the new media law in Russia.

Interesting news: A clampdown on foreign-owned media is an opportunity for some oligarchs
“YOU work for a foreign state.” That is what Tatiana Lysova, the editor of Vedomosti, a respected daily business paper, says one of Vladimir Putin’s advisers told her in a meeting in the Kremlin last year. Vedomosti is jointly owned by three foreign media groups: News Corp of America, Pearson of Britain (part-owner of The Economist) and Sanoma of Finland. In the Kremlin’s reductionist and conspiratorial worldview, that practically makes the paper a branch office of the CIA and MI6.

This paranoid patriotism, intensified by Russia’s conflict with the West over Ukraine, helps to explain a law Mr Putin signed last month. It bans foreign firms and individuals from owning more than 20% of any media outlet based in the country. Vedomosti will be among its first victims…

A report by Bloomberg, an American news service, said Vedomosti may end up being bought by an affiliate of Gazprom, a state energy giant, or Yury Kovalchuk, an ally of Mr Putin. If so there would surely be fears over its ability to keep up its robust reporting…

Selling soon to a Putin friend?
Floriana Fossato, who worked in the media business in Moscow in the 2000s and now studies Russian television at University College London, wonders if the new law is ultimately rooted in a play among politically-connected insiders to control the country’s advertising market. She says those close to power think: let’s solve a political problem, but why not also make money at the same time?…

Just as the paranoid politics of war can be costly for some, it can be profitable for others. There are few areas of the Russian economy that are not vulnerable to the arguments of national security and the need to stand up to the West… A rash of closings of McDonald’s restaurants across the country, supposedly for “sanitary” reasons, is another sign of how even the most seemingly uncontroversial businesses can get caught up in the current mood…

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Plan your holiday shopping: a few pages a day between now and the exam in May will help you remember things like the distinctions between government and regime and between nation and state.
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