Russian media: an ongoing threat to Estonia


At the beginning of March, Estonians were introduced to a survey, which was conducted by the Ukraine crisis media center about the coverage of 38 countries on three Russian television channels.

The study focused on the three largest TV stations (Channel One, NTV and Russia 1), which together account for 41.7% of all the TV channels watched. The news and talk shows of these channels were under review, For example, the Channel One shows: Новости, Воскресное время and Время. The NTV channel shows: Сегодня and Большинство as well as the Russia 1 channel shows: Вести, Вести недели, Вести в субботу and Вечер с Владимиром Соловьевым.

According to the survey, 90% of the Russian population watch TV shows and the three channels selected are also the most viewed for news coverage (Channel One70%, Russia1 46% and NTV 40%), consequently analyzing their content provides a good overview on how the Kremlin allows Western countries to be portrayed to Russian viewers.

The study pointed out that in 34 of the 38 countries surveyed, the number of negative responses was 71% and higher. Estonia had for example 83% negative content in these programs. The study revealed the fact that the most important television channels are generally negative when referring to Western countries.

For the Baltic nations, four main narratives were consistently discussed in the programs: the rise of Nazism in the Baltics, the use of the Baltic nations by NATO as a training Polygon area, the persecution of Russian speaking residents and the rise of Russo Phobia as well as the desire of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania to retell history.

On the European front, the main narratives were about sanctions against Russia, which are allegedly actually devastating Europe, the fear of European politicians to confront America, the decline of morality, the deliberate falsification of history as well as the rise of terrorism, protests and strikes in Europe.

The study is very voluminous covering thousands of broadcasts of the three TV channels between July 2014 and December 2017 and the conclusions about the bias in the content of the selected three broadcasts are definitely true. If we add that television is the most followed media in Russia (57%) and its contents play a major role in influencing people, it is clear that this effect will at least in part be transmitted across the border to Estonia. In the run-up to the upcoming Parliamentary elections we can expect to see interventions from the Russian channels in the elections, as the number of followers of these channels is quite high in Estonia. The purchase of content on the PBK channel is no longer a topic, rather the support of Kremlin supported and minded elected politicians being showed in a positive image is the issue.

Photo: a screen shot of the presentation of the Ukrainian Critical Communication Center study and Rossia 1 website.