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Russians mistrust television to larger extent

July 24, 2012, 16:10 UTC+3 Alexandrova Lyudmila

The Russians mistrust the television to a larger extent. Although this fact quite matches world tendencies, which the Internet development preconditions, there are purely domestic reasons for this as well. Some believe that the creation of the Public Television will help to avoid state control and regain trust of television viewers. Meanwhile, the opposition is planning to create its own Internet television channel.

Only 35% of Russian population consider the television unbiased that is the historical minimal level, the RBC daily cited the results of a public opinion survey that the Synovate Comcon Company conducted. The sociologists found that 35% of Russian media consumers trusted in the television and newspapers in 2011. But before the television authority was dozens of percent higher than that of printed media. For instance, 40% of Russians trusted in the television and 34% to the newspapers in 2010.

The Internet showed the trust ratings of all media channels. A record 40% of Russian population believe in the Internet. The World Wide Web is subject to state control at the lowest level, the survey of Synovate Comcon showed.

“It was worth of being expected. I will say more that the tendency will be continued: the trust to the television will be falling and to the Internet editions and newspapers will be growing,” chairman of the board of directors of the Izvestia daily Aram Gabrelyanov said without any surprise. “The situation is more difficult with the newspapers. Recently the readers put trust not in the printed newspapers, but in their websites and after that look in the newspaper,” he said.

“The television preserved its information and propagandistic functions as before. But now people began to select, their attention is diversified,” the RBC daily quoted State Duma deputy from the A Just Russia faction and one of the leaders of the protesting movement Ilya Ponomarev as saying.

“The level of trust to the federal television channels is predictably going down, because people witness that the television reports do not correspond to the reality, which they see every day around them,” political expert Stanislav Belkovsky said with confidence.

The decline in the trust to the television is a world tendency, editor-in-chief of the Russia Today television channel Margarita Simonyan noted. “This happens because many alternative information sources appeared. The tendency was emphatically confirmed in the United States. The trust in the television channels went down to the historical minimal level of 21% in that country,” she elaborated.

In fact, a rapidly falling interest to the television and the shift of users to other electronic gadgets is observed everywhere in the world. For instance, the consulting company Accenture conducted an online survey among about 10,000 users, in which Brazil, China, France, Germany, India, Japan, Russia, South Africa, Sweden and the United States were represented by about 1,000 consumers each. The sociological survey showed that more and more people use smart phones and ipads for the work with multimedia and turn to the online services more and more frequently. The percentage of respondents, who watched terrestrial or cable television during the workweek, went down from 71% in 2009 to 48% in 2011 that corresponds to a lower share of respondents, who intended to buy a TV set within next 12 months, from 35% in 2010 to 32% in 2011.

Russia pins some hopes on the creation of a non-profit Public Television, which should be launched already in 2013. This television is expected to be gratis and accessible for all Russians and at the same time to be immune from an excessive state influence. The Public Television Council, which will be formed through the procedure at the Public Chamber, will be the main governing body in the Public Television. The presidential decree for the creation of the Public Television contains a direct ban for public servants to be included in the Council.

However, many people are sceptical about this project. For instance, a famous Russian TV anchorman Vladimir Pozner stated that he does not believe in the independence of a future television channel. “I stated repeatedly that the way this television is described in the presidential decree it is not a public television and cannot be called so. It is not important, who will be appointed as its general director, when the Public Television will be directly subordinate to the state authorities that contradicts the very sense of public television,” the website quoted him as saying.

Pozner acknowledged before that he offered to Putin some time ago to create the Public Television in Russia that will be similar to that in Canada (the public television in that country is funded from the budget, but the state authorities do not interfere in its editorial policy). However, the incumbent president smiled at Pozner’s proposal, according to the latter, and called him “a naive person”.

Meanwhile, the opposition is preparing an Internet television channel as an alternative to the federal television channels and the Public Television by this autumn.

“They will stake on the high quality of the content and broadcasting. Only this way it is possible to gain the sympathies of people, from whom the funding of the project will depend,” one of the opposition leaders and deputy from the A Just Russia Party Dmitry Gudkov told the Izvestia daily.

Independent journalists, who do not agree with the official state propaganda, will be recruited to create the content of this Internet television channel. The first program on the public Internet television channel, which will focus on public and political issues, should be broadcast in September.

Russia turned out to be at the 172nd position from 197 countries in the World Press Freedom Index, which the US non-governmental organization Freedom House had made up. Its report noted that the mass media in Russia are exposed to systematic pressure from the state authorities that results in the restriction of political competition. The report noted that a particularly bad situation has emerged with the national television.

MOSCOW, July 24