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Global Intelligence for the Digital Transition

Deep penetration of state propaganda in media consumption in Russia

The Levada Center, the Russian independent analytical research institution, has published the  report analyzing the results of more than 10 surveys of media consumption carried out in   March 2014 and in the previous 10 years.

The survey confirmed the dominating role of television in Russia. The concluding paragraph says: “Russian TV – and primarily three state channels – has an almost unchallenged monopoly on the formation of the social and political agenda in the country. Any other sources of information, including the internet, have a disproportionately smaller audience. Qualitative analytical media, considered to be independent, have a noticeably smaller audience than their state counterparts, even on the Internet. The actual lack of alternative media in Russia is an important condition for maintaining the existing political order.”

The objectiveness of TV has been challenged recently, but this does not have a big impact on the audience numbers: “Over the last three or four years, the proportion of Russians who doubt the objectivity of news programs on central TV channels is increasing. However, this does not affect the consumption of television: TV remains the main source of information for those who trust it (92% of this group), and for those who do not trust it (88% respectively). People do not trust it but still watch it, as there is no meaningful alternative to[this type of] television in Russia today.”

Despite its relatively high penetration – 57% of Russians and 73% of Muscovites regularly use the internet – the internet does not play a major role in setting the agenda: “The impact of internet resources in Russia today is negligible. People who get their news from the internet (and do not watch TV channels) constitute no more than 5%, while 20% of internet users use it as a supplement to television. Moreover, the publications that are considered to be independent are not taking leading positions on the internet (even in large cities).”

A small proportion of Russians use several sources of information: “The most informed – about 7% – use all possible sources of information about ongoing events. These are mostly middle-aged people, well-educated and well-off; about half of them live in Moscow and other big cities. They demonstrate the greatest interest inunderstanding what is happening.”

Some selective numbers from the research:

  • 90% named TV as their news source
  • 55% named TV as their only news source
  • 65% trust TV as the most credible news source
  • 20% use only traditional news sources – TV, radio newspapers
  • 5% use the internet as their primary news source and don’t watch TV
  • 7% use multiple (4 or more) news sources
  • The number of readers of daily newspapers dropped from 39% in 2003 to 28% in 2014
  • 50% of Muscovites never read newspapers
  • Quality independent newspapers and magazines have audiences of:
    •     Kommersant – 6%
    •     Vedomosti – 5%
    •     Novaya Gazeta – 2%
    •     Forbes – 2%
    •     The New Times – 1%
  • Echo of Moscow has an audience share of 11% in Moscow
  • The TV Rain website has an audience of 4% in Moscow
  • 57% of Russians and 73% of Muscovites regularly use the internet
  • 32% of Russians and 20% of Muscovites never use the internet

For more, see here (in Russian): Российский медиа-ландшафт: телевидение, пресса, Интернет

Article by Veronica Dmitriyeva

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