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Why Russian TV networks waited two hours to report bombings

News of the underground suicide bombings in Moscow on Monday led news broadcasts around the world within minutes of the explosions. But not in Russia.

Time magazine reports that none of the country's three main TV networks interrupted their normal broadcasts to report Russia's worst terrorist attack in five years.

Critics say the slow response of the networks — Channel One, Rossia 1 and NTV — is indicative of the state of television journalism in Russia today. They claim that the broadcasters have been so cowed by the Kremlin, they are incapable of covering events of vital national importance.

Arina Borodina, a TV critic with Moscow's Kommersant newspaper, says: "Can you imagine an attack during rush hour in New York or Paris, and a television channel doesn't show anything for two hours?"

Ever since Vladimir Putin came to power a decade ago, the Kremlin has steadily reined in the coverage of the main television networks, all of which are controlled by the government or state-owned companies.

In the 1990s, the channels tended to slant their coverage in favor of their oligarch owners, but they also produced incisive investigative reports previously unknown to a population raised on Soviet propaganda.

The Kremlin has repeatedly denied dictating to the networks on how to cover major events, but they almost never stray from the official line nowadays and often provide fawning coverage of prime minister Putin President Dmitri Medvedev.

According to Anna Kachkayeva, a professor at Moscow State University and a TV critic with Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, says the reluctance of the networks to broadcast breaking coverage of the bombings was only partially due to Kremlin pressure.

She believes the art of live coverage has also disappeared in the past 10 years as news broadcasts have become more and more scripted, saying: "There just aren't very many people around anymore who can do live television."

However, Anatoly Lysenko, a pioneer in contemporary Russian television, argues that the channels reported responsibly and helped avoid a city-wide panic.

Source: Time


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  • DRadov4 DRadov4

    1 Apr 2010, 9:41AM

    Apparently Russian television is trying to be responsible. Nobody calls from Kremlin... I know that for sure. They are (the producers) know themselves what and how to say it. Just like CNN and the rest of "free media". Let me share my very own experience though. We have sent the filming crew to Iraq in 1998 when Hussein was still there running the show. We did the documentary about kids that are dying from the shortage of medicine, students that have no pencils and paper and covered other humanitarian problems due to the sanctions. After airing out (it was channel 5) I was called by the producers who urgently wanted to meet. He got called from the Eltzin administration at night and they literally asked why pro Hussein film was shown because that is what US State Department told them! Also I know for sure that Gusinsky (the ex owner of NTV) first time really got involved into the information context of his channel at the times of Kosovo war when he was asked by his American brothers to be more ?objective? and cover Kosovo side of the story more. That was the last drop for Kremlin. This is what I know for sure.
    Personally I think that what CNN have turned to after the Turner left it.., What is BBC now and most of all what is Fox news and other outlets of Murdoch Empire? I much rather will let elected officials censor the news in the extreme situatios like these then let the Red neck conservative people haters money mongers do it for us. Spread yet more hate, fear and LIES

  • Brigadir Brigadir

    1 Apr 2010, 1:22

    It is because unlike in the US, Russian police does not get "donations" from the news networks and they in return, in case of any emergency, call the media to cover the "top story" even before they call for back up. I was witnessing an incident in North Carolina, USA, when a media crew tried to break through police barrier to cover road accident involving 7 deaths, and the news man told the office something like this: Why did you not call us first, you m...on, we pay for your Christmas and your 4th of July(independence day) bonus in order for us to be the first on the scene in this town.

  • Bluebaby Bluebaby

    1 Apr 2010, 1:57

    I wish certain media outlets had exercised such caution 07/07/05. Instead we were treated to speculation rather than facts, with reports of multiple bus explosions as opposed to the one (too many) that had happened.

  • NativeBornTexan NativeBornTexan

    1 Apr 2010, 5:37

    I can't believe anyone would defend a situation where major news outlets fail to report such a major event for so long.

    DRadov4
    I much rather will let elected officials censor the news in the extreme situatios like these then let the Red neck conservative people haters money mongers do it for us.

    Not me. I would NEVER want government officials, whether elected or not, to censor the news. And you present us with a false dichotomy. There are more than two choices here. Even if some of the news is under the sway of "Red neck conservative people haters money mongers," I read enough media to know that much of the media is under the sway of Liberal publishers. MSNBC, The New York Times, The Guardian, Mother Jones News, etc. I seek out and read from both points of view. You should, too.

    Olligron
    Indeed. So unlike Fox News which reports events 2 hours before they happen...

    I don't care for Fox News either, but what do the habits of Fox news have to do with what happens in the Russian Media? Or more importantly, how do the habits of Fox news justify bad behavior on the part of the Russian media?

    Brigadir
    It is because unlike in the US, Russian police does not get "donations" from the news networks and they in return, in case of any emergency, call the media to cover the "top story" even before they call for back up.

    Let's assume for the sake of argument that you are correct and Russian Police don't get "donations" from the media. Please explain how that justifies the media not doing their job and covering a very, very important event. Hint: It doesn't.

    Bluebaby
    I wish certain media outlets had exercised such caution 07/07/05. Instead we were treated to speculation rather than facts, with reports of multiple bus explosions as opposed to the one (too many) that had happened.

    You may be correct that we don't need speculation. But surely you can see the benefit of covering this event in real time as it happens even if only for the benefit of grieving family members and for the benefit of the public.

    People, please. A free press is only free when the government doesn't coerce it. What happenned in Russia was wrong. It doesn't matter what the media do in other countries.

  • tomasofoz tomasofoz

    1 Apr 2010, 7:48

    Maybe they don't like giving publicity to Mossad funded operations against their nation, the west can learn something from the Russians?

    Na we're too dumb down, forget it, go on about you pointless day.

  • Vluca Vluca

    1 Apr 2010, 8:28

    I am Italian, I have also USA citizenship ( over 12 years there), I have been in Russia many times. Honestly this article is just empty speculation. Thinking that freedom is equal to how fast you make a show out of an accident/terrorist act etc. is simply childish. Freedom is not built on speed. Actually it could be the exact opposite. I agree in case of a tragic event is much more important to avoid panic, misinformation and just get the professionals on the scene to take care of things, instead of having the "movie of the day" running on TV. I believe we lost sense of respect and the sense of how serious things can be in real life. I am amazed to see how our western culture goes more and more toward a kind of numbness and over-simple thinking. I guess I don't watch enough TV every day and most of all I do NOT believe that if it's on TV it's true..... So, what has this article to do with being free or not?

  • ktougodno ktougodno

    1 Apr 2010, 8:43

    @tomasofoz
    Right on the target, man.It is not a suspision, it is that. Guys, you gotta start using your heads, not for wearing fancy headwear but actually for thinking. Ask yourselves why is it no network would cover the latest precious metal scandal but RT. Is this a pay off for daring to expose the biggest fraud committed on London exchange? Is it because all the attempts of the Berezovsky (who himself is wanted by the judicial system in Russia and who is being covered up by the manipulators in the British government) crew are failing to destabilize Russia politically now they decided to try some hard core stuff. Look, the Russian people do not buy this liberstic crap. They have very good documentaries shown day in and day out exposing ?democracy of the West? and their ?Total Global Domination? agenda and advances of NWO to take control of the World Resources. They are also aware of the genocidal policies conducted against Russian people and 169 smaller ethnicities that populate Russia. I guess the West is doing something extremely wrong and stinky if even Kadirov finally figured out that Chechen resistance movement was played against Russia with the only purpose in mind - to break apart Russia thought the Caucasus region. Stop eating American fast food it seems to cause mass stupidity everywhere people start consuming it in large quantities.

  • ktougodno ktougodno

    1 Apr 2010, 9:58

    I am reading the comments and am quite happy that not all people are brain dead. I just want you, guys with brains, (those without are hopeless) to understand one simple thing - Russia is your best ally in a fight against the NWO. If Russia goes down so will you, since your governments already sold you out to the banksters? cartel. Look at Greece. Instead of going after the crooks, they punish the people who actually work and produce something. Not only they sold you, they also work day and night to set the Germans against the Greeks, French against the Germans, etc. When the bloody hell are you going to figure it out? Remember the Copenhagen meeting? Where did the compromising information come from? Better start using your brains before it?s too late. Now ask yourselves ? cui bono? Who will benefit from destabilizing Russia? The USA and Israel? they?ll get a green light to attack Iran and lunch an endless war to wash off their tremendous debt to other nations, more better if those nations get wiped out in the conflict. Right? Georgia will benefit by taking Osetia and Abhazia back. Cartel behind Nabucco will benefit because then they can kill South Stream and North Stream, living Nabucco as the only pipeline that will control Western Europe. NATO will benefit, it will remain the only military power to control the North Pole and arctic with its vast resources. So people, please start thinking?.the NWO mafia managed to accomplish so much just because you don?t think.

  • DRadov4 DRadov4

    2 Apr 2010, 9:57AM

    Not me. I would NEVER want government officials, whether elected or not, to censor the news. And you present us with a false dichotomy. There are more than two choices here. Even if some of the news is under the sway of "Red neck conservative people haters money mongers," I read enough media to know that much of the media is under the sway of Liberal publishers. MSNBC, The New York Times, The Guardian, Mother Jones News, etc. I seek out and read from both points of view. You should, too.

    Texas elected officials are changing the school text books though. It is too much under the "liberal" influence... Cause Texans are not the creation of evolution apparently and progress is not for them. Freeaaaakyyy....

  • morvinion morvinion

    2 Apr 2010, 12:02

    Well, for those of you who are seeing the Putin's KGB paw in the slow coverage of the incident should probably imagine what would they do in the place of Russian media workers. It is either exercise professional approach or try to reach their friends and families via overloaded cellular networks to ask if they are safe... I am not a journalist, so I can't really answer for them, but I would probably choose the second option. And again, in such situations it is vitally important to avoid citywide panic. I'm afraid to image what could happen to the transport system, had the bombings been covered earlier.

  • NativeBornTexan NativeBornTexan

    2 Apr 2010, 3:37

    DRadov4
    Texas elected officials are changing the school text books though. It is too much under the "liberal" influence... Cause Texans are not the creation of evolution apparently and progress is not for them. Freeaaaakyyy....

    The article we are discussing here is about the Russian Media and why they took so long to begin informing the public about the subway bombings. How does the above statement have anything to do with that?

    Unless you can clarify what you mean, here is the argument you seem to be making: Texans have backward beliefs and therefore it is okay for the Russian Media to do a poor job."

    Is that really the level of your logic?

    Better yet, open any textbook on logic and look up the concept of "non sequiturs" and "ad hominem" arguments.

    My argument is quite simple: Responsible media should have covered the subway bombings immediately. The Russian media did not do so. What the media do in other countries is irrelevent.

  • NativeBornTexan NativeBornTexan

    2 Apr 2010, 3:51

    morvinion
    And again, in such situations it is vitally important to avoid citywide panic. I'm afraid to image what could happen to the transport system, had the bombings been covered earlier.

    I agree with you that we should avoid citywide panic. But perhaps you should give citizens more credit. I know for a fact that it is possible to cover disasters like this without panicking the public.

    When the good Citizens of Spain experienced their tragic railroad bombings, media coverage was instant and widespread. And there was no major panic like the kind you seem to fear.

    The same thing happenned in the USA after 9/11. Instant media coverage without the kind of panic you seem to fear.

    And the same thing in Bali.

    I could go on, but you get the point.

    If my family regularly rode the subway in Moscow, or if they rode the rails in Spain, or stayed in hotels in Bali, I would want to know instantly if something terrible happenned there. I would want to know that I could turn on the TV or the radio and be informed.

    I bet you would, too.

  • Olligron Olligron

    2 Apr 2010, 4:36

    NativeBornTexan

    My argument is quite simple: Responsible media should have covered the subway bombings immediately.

    "Responsible Media" - what a lovely combination! Made me smile.
    OK, the blasts happened during morning rush hour when people were on their way to work. The offices at Moscow open a bit late, at nine or ten, I guess it is the same with TV offices as well.
    The time required to get to work from one's residence to a working place is usually from one to two hours. The article states that the delay was about 2 hours (one hundren and twenty minutes) - which explains it: no reporters were available at the time.
    And, me thinks, it was a good thing.. less panic, less idle speculations, more coordination.

    NativeBornTexan

    What the media do in other countries is irrelevent.

    It is relevent at the context of the article. The authour directly suggests comparison between "our FREE media like CNN, Fox News etc - and "theirs, unfree like .. eh.. names unknown due to the lack of language skills".

  • Olligron Olligron

    2 Apr 2010, 4:43

    NativeBornTexan

    When the good Citizens of Spain experienced their tragic railroad bombings, media coverage was instant and widespread. And there was no major panic like the kind you seem to fear.

    I'm afraid you are not entirely grasp the fact that it happened in the Moscow Underground, deep, deep down, with the trains arriving every two or three minutes with lots of commuters whereas the Madrid bombing was above the ground.

  • NativeBornTexan NativeBornTexan

    2 Apr 2010, 7:23

    Olligron
    The time required to get to work from one's residence to a working place is usually from one to two hours. The article states that the delay was about 2 hours (one hundren and twenty minutes) - which explains it: no reporters were available at the time.

    Let me see if I understand. You're claiming it's perfectly okay to skip a major news story because, "no reporters are available."

    Really?

    Note to terrorists: plan any embarrassing or dangerous events early in the day if you want to avoid the coverage from lazy journalists, especially in Moscow.

    What the media do in other countries is irrelevent.

    It is relevent at the context of the article. The authour directly suggests comparison between "our FREE media like CNN, Fox News etc - and "theirs, unfree like .. eh.. names unknown due to the lack of language skills".

    Lets assume you are correct and that what media do in other countries is relevent.

    In that case your argument has now become this: If media in other countries behave bady, then it is okay for Russian media to behave badly.

    That's not much of an argument.

    I'm afraid you are not entirely grasp the fact that it happened in the Moscow Underground, deep, deep down, with the trains arriving every two or three minutes with lots of commuters whereas the Madrid bombing was above the ground.

    Underground, above ground. So what?

    The London bombings happened underground, and still the media coverage was instantaneous.

    So why not in Moscow?

  • Midnike Midnike

    2 Apr 2010, 7:59

    Just another lie

    First explosion -- about 7.55 (local time)
    First international news agencies' reports -- about 8.20
    First report on the main Russian federal TV channel (1st Channel) - 8.30

    There was no any "two hours delay".

  • Olligron Olligron

    3 Apr 2010, 12:43AM

    Midnike

    Just another lie

    First explosion -- about 7.55 (local time)
    First international news agencies' reports -- about 8.20
    First report on the main Russian federal TV channel (1st Channel) - 8.30

    There was no any "two hours delay".

    Thank you for checking this - I shouldn't have quoted our local jounalists - being a "free" media they are usually very free with the facts..

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