Thursday, August 21, 2014

The Power Vertical

Podcast: The Politics Of Television

A customer watches the broadcast of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's annual TV marathon question-and-answer at a shop in Novosibirsk in December 2011.
A customer watches the broadcast of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's annual TV marathon question-and-answer at a shop in Novosibirsk in December 2011.
Television. If you get your news from it in Russia, as most there do, chances are you are being spoon-fed a steady diet of slickly produced state-sanctioned spin. This is just as true for nominally private stations like NTV as it is for official state outlets like Channel One.

But as a wave of antigovernment protests swept the country following the disputed December 4 parliamentary elections, outgoing President Dmitry Medvedev promised to change all that. And this week, he claimed to deliver on that promise by announcing the formation of Russia's first public television channel -- something the Kremlin is billing as similar to the BBC in Great Britain or PBS in the United States.

But as always is the case in Russia, the devil is in the details. And the details suggest that Russia's new public television station will be far from independent and far from free of state influence. 

For this week's edition of The Power Vertical Podcast, I sat down with my regular co-host, Kirill Kobrin, managing editor of RFE/RL's Russian Service, to discuss the politics of television and Russia's changing media landscape.

Kirill and I also discuss the increasingly interesting election campaign for mayor of Omsk and address the question: Can a 28-year-old blogger with a wild afro become mayor of Russia's seventh-largest city?

Listen to or download the podcast below or subscribe to The Power Vertical Podcast on iTunes.

The Power Vertical: The Politics Of Television
The Power Vertical: The Politics Of Televisioni
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Tags: Media,podcast,Omsk mayoral election,public television

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Comment Sorting
by: Fred Eidlin from: Perm' Russian Federation
April 21, 2012 19:52
Appointed by the Russian President who, you seem to imply, could not possibly want genuinely independent public broadcasting. Have a look at the way the members of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, who oversee public broadcasting in the United States, are selected (Wikipedia) The Corporation for Public Broadcasting has six board members who serve six-year terms and are selected by the President of the United States and confirmed by the Senate.
As of (February 2011), the CPB board was composed of three Republicans and three Democrats. According to the Public Broadcasting Act, the White House cannot appoint persons of the same political party to more than five of the nine CPB board seats.
In 2004 and 2005, there were complaints by people within PBS and NPR that the CPB was starting to push a conservative agenda,[7][8] while board members counter that they are merely seeking balance. Polls of the PBS and NPR audiences in 2002 and 2003 indicated that few felt that the groups’ news reports contained bias, and those that saw a slant were split as to which side they believed the reports favored. The president of the CPB, Patricia Harrison, is a former co-chair of the Republican National Committee; between 2001–2010, its chair was a Republican.
The charge of a conservative agenda reached a head in 2005. The point man of the controversy, Kenneth Tomlinson, was the chair of the CPB board from September 2003 until September 2005. During his time as Chair, he drew the anger of PBS and NPR supporters by unilaterally commissioning a study of alleged bias of the PBS show, NOW with Bill Moyers, conducted by a conservative colleague, and by appointing two conservatives as CPB Ombudsmen.[9] On November 3, 2005, Tomlinson resigned from the board in the face of allegations of scandal. A report of his tenure by the CPB Inspector General, Kenneth Konz, requested by House Democrats, prompted his resignation. On November 15, the report was made public. It found evidence that "the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) former Chairman violated statutory provisions and the Director’s Code of Ethics by dealing directly with one of the creators of a new public affairs program during negotiations with PBS and the CPB over creating the show." It also "found evidence that suggests “political tests” were a major criteria used by the former Chairman in recruiting a President/Chief Executive Officer (CEO) for CPB, which violated statutory prohibitions against such practices".[10]

About This Blog

The Power Vertical is a blog written especially for Russia wonks and obsessive Kremlin watchers by Brian Whitmore. It covers emerging and developing trends in Russian politics, shining a spotlight on the high-stakes power struggles, machinations, and clashing interests that shape Kremlin policy today. Check out The Power Vertical Facebook page or