Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Current Crisis Boosts Russian Internet and Kremlin Efforts to Control It

A Window on Eurasia article by Paul Gobel, via Georgia Daily, reports that:

One of the consequences of the current economic crisis in Russia is that the Internet is becoming a more important player in the media there, but precisely because of that, the web is attracting greater attention from Russian officials who view it as a threat to their ability to shape public attitudes through their control of television.

As their incomes stagnate or fall, Russians increasingly are turning to media outlets that do not cost them as much as newspapers and magazines do. Until recently and for many still, that has meant television; but now, especially as more and more Russians recognize the growing gaps in TV coverage, it includes the Internet as well.

The growth in the number of Russians going online entails two significant consequences. On the one hand, more and more companies are spending their advertising budgets on websites rather than traditional outlets, something that further erodes the already precarious situation of many of the latter.

On the other, Moscow has been forced to recognize that the Internet now represents an increasingly serious challenger to its control of the media space and hence of the public agenda in that country. And that recognition has led the government to seek to control a media that many Russian officials had thought that they could ignore.

More here.


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