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The Three Unwritten Rules of Russian Television

andreyeva070308.jpgNeil Buckley of the Financial Times has a great article on the state of Russia’s state-dominated television news – where propaganda has become more subtle, glitzy, and effective:

Three unwritten rules seem to apply to the editors’ approach. The first is to give only the Russian side of the story. When, for instance, Moscow cut off natural gas supplies to neighbouring Ukraine in a payment dispute in 2006, Ukrainian voices were barely heard. Second, keep the opposition off the air. Critics broadly tolerated by the Kremlin – the communists and ultra-nationalist Vladimir Zhirinovsky – get some airtime, but the pro-democracy opposition, including former chess champion Garry Kasparov and a former prime minister, Mikhail Kas-yanov, are almost entirely absent. Even Grigory Yavlinsky, twice a presidential candidate from the liberal Yabloko party, complains he rarely gets on national TV, or is “edited to make me look stupid”. Rule three: don’t criticise the president. Putin-era TV news developed the habit of showing him daily jabbing his finger at unfortunate ministers, regional governors or the occasional oligarch. The government may be a bunch of incompetents, it implied, but good Tsar Putin is looking after you.

Photo: Vremya host Yekaterina Andreyeva handled Putin’s nationally televised question and answer call-in show back in 2005 (Washington Post)