New Global TV Venture to Promote Russia



Russia's state-owned news agency, RIA-NOVOSTI, has surprised media watchers by announcing plans to launch a new, 24-hour global television news channel to improve Russia's image abroad. Russia Today is to hit the airwaves late this year and is being hailed by organizers as a new Russian CNN. But several analysts say the venture will amount to nothing more than Kremlin propaganda.

Russia's domestic television media, which consists of only two government-sponsored tv channels, already suffers from a credibility problem. Enter plans for Russia Today, whose organizers say it will cover international news with a, "Russian outlook" and the issue takes on a whole new dimension.

With initial funding amounting to $30 million, the station hopes to employ 500 people to prepare broadcasts for view in the United States, Europe, several Asian countries, and many of the former Soviet Republics.

Margarita Simonyan, editor in chief of Russia Today TV, a 24-hour, English-language satellite news channel funded by Russian state
The newly-named Director General of Russia Today, 25-year-old Margarita Simonyan, hails from the Kremlin press corps. She says the station aims to counter, what she calls, the Anglo-Saxon domination of global television news.

Ms. Simonyan says organizers also hope it will change the negative view many foreigners have of Russia as a nation lacking law and order. But her more immediate job has been to try to deflect the negative coverage generated inside Russia, following recent word of the channel's launch.

Ms. Simonyan tells VOA that it is difficult to answer critics who, she says, have already made up their minds that Russia Today will not be editorially independent of its Kremlin sponsors.

Wait and see, was all she said.

She also said a public council to oversee editorial independence was in the works. But she offered no other concrete details on real or suggested safeguards to ensure the station's editorial integrity.

Chief Editor Anton Nosik, of a major English-language computer internet site in Russia (, is one critic of the channel who is skeptical. Mr. Nosik says the idea smacks of Soviet-style propaganda campaigns, dating as far back as Joseph Stalin.

"This channel is not created as a response to any existing demand," he said. "Nobody has ever measured existing demand for such sort of coverage in the world. And same as 70 years ago, the demand simply is not there."

Mr. Nosik holds out little hope the channel will broadcast anything other than what the Kremlin wants to see which, in his view, is a Russian success story.

"We expect to see that life in Russia [is] improved, that [the] Russian government is doing all in its power, that [the] Russian economy is healthy and sound, that Russia is a good place for investment, and that Russia is the most progressive country in the world and that Russia is the hope of all progressive mankind," he added. "That is the ancient Soviet propaganda picture that has been recreated by the current authorities because they sincerely believe in it and want the rest of the world to believe in it as well."

But the question on the minds of many analysts in Russia is, will the public buy it? Masha Lipman of Moscow's Carnegie Center, thinks not.

"There is a general sense in the world, among those who are interested in Russia - media, analysts, students of Russia - that in Russia, the state once again is heavily centralized and all decision-taking is concentrated in the Kremlin and the Kremlin uses all the remaining institutions to further its own purposes," said Ms. Lipman. "And so it will be assumed that this channel too, of course, is only launched to further Kremlin goals. So, I think whoever is watching it for analytical purposes, will watch it with suspicion, trying to see signs of the Kremlin's influence, or censorship, or the Kremlin's interest behind it."

Analyst Lipman says she believes Russia's global reputation is determined to a great extent by Russia's political performance, as well as by its political failures. Among the latter, she cites the recent corruption trial and subsequent sentencing of former Yukos Chief Executive Mikhail Khodorkovsky as perhaps the most damaging for Russia's image abroad.

Ms. Lipman also questions why Russian officials do not consider attacking the source of the image problem, the problems themselves, rather than trying to re-make Russia's image.

But Ivan Zasoursky, a professor of Journalism at Moscow State University, says Russia-Today could be beneficial in a most unforeseen way.

Mr. Zasoursky says Russians have a long tradition of airing problems in public. And in this sense, he says if the station seeks to address issues like the dismantling of any viable political opposition in the country, or growing domestic capital flight, then, Russia Today could be a viable media outlet. But like the other analysts, he is waiting to see what, in fact, Russia Today delivers when it begins broadcasting this September.

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against ISi
November 24, 2015 3:04 AM
The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs