Disinfo: Western Media are losing their positions, while RT and Sputnik are more popular

Summary

Western media are losing their positions.

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It is more and more difficult for Western media to compete with the media of the “non-free world”, China or Russia. RT and Sputnik are indeed getting more and more feedback on social networks than Europe’s most famous and influential news resources.

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The Western media are doing worse and worse with the fulfilment of their main function – accumulating and delivering to the audience the most extensive and varied news information.

Disproof

Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative aimed at discrediting independent media and journalism.

The 2020 World Press Freedom Index clearly shows the positions of Western Media in the world. Russia ranked 149th and China 177th on the list.

As the Similar Web analysis suggests, RT ranks 347th in the Global rank and 57th in the News and Media category. (data from 7 Sept. review). Sputniknews ranked 875th in the Global rank and 153rd in News and Media.

As for the RT and Sputnik popularity on the social media, in particular, on YouTube, it is unclear what methodology RT has used to reach the claim that it is the most-watched TV channel on Youtube. For further debunk read here.

Concerning popularity on Facebook, it is worth to know that last year Facebook has removed hundreds of pages, groups, and accounts on its Facebook and Instagram platforms linked to Sputnik, the company says those were part of two online disinformation operations targeting users across the former Soviet space. As Nathaniel Gleicher, Head of Cybersecurity Policy said:

"The Page administrators and account owners primarily represented themselves as independent news Pages or general interest Pages on topics like weather, travel, sports, economics, or politicians in Romania, Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Moldova, Russia, and Kyrgyzstan. Despite their misrepresentations of their identities, we found that these Pages and accounts were linked to employees of Sputnik, a news agency based in Moscow, and that some of the Pages frequently posted about topics like anti-NATO sentiment, protest movements, and anti-corruption."

More about Russian Social Media Influence can be read here.

RT (Russia Today) and Sputnik are the two foreign language flagships of Russia’s campaign to influence international public opinion. Both outlets present themselves as media that provide alternative views to the mainstream in international news reporting. Read our analysis describing three fundamental differences between these outlets and what is normally perceived as independent journalism.

publication/media

  • Reported in: Issue 210
  • DATE OF PUBLICATION: 08/07/2020
  • Language/target audience: Russian
  • Country: Russia
  • Keywords: Russia Today (RT), Propaganda, Media, The West, Sputnik

Disclaimer

Cases in the EUvsDisinfo database focus on messages in the international information space that are identified as providing a partial, distorted, or false depiction of reality and spread key pro-Kremlin messages. This does not necessarily imply, however, that a given outlet is linked to the Kremlin or editorially pro-Kremlin, or that it has intentionally sought to disinform. EUvsDisinfo publications do not represent an official EU position, as the information and opinions expressed are based on media reporting and analysis of the East Stratcom Task Force.

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Armenia has blocked broadcasting from Russia

Armenia blocked broadcasting from Russia. Armenian parliament nevertheless adopted a scandalous law on broadcasting in a foreign language. Parliament voted to ban the free broadcasting of Russian TV channels in Armenia.

The rationale for the adoption of such a law is almost classical for post-Soviet limitrophes – the National Commission on Television and Radio Broadcasting believes that these channels are no less a threat to Armenia’s national security.

Of course, this is an act of cleansing the country’s information space from Russian influence. Or even the act of clearing out for something new? This we will see in the nearest future.

Disproof

A manipulative statement, accusing Armenian authorities of being Russophobic and Anti-Russian. Misinterpretation of the "Audiovisual Media Law" of the Republic of Armenia. Armenia did not block Russian channels, the Law is regulating the broadcasting in foreign languages, including Russian in public multiplex only. It does not mean a ban on the broadcasting of Russian TV companies in Armenia and leaves both states the opportunity to conclude intergovernmental agreements to ensure broadcasting of Russian channels through the public multiplex of Armenia.

The new law regulates the public multiplex, where foreign broadcasters can broadcast only under the interstate or intergovernmental or international agreements. For example, Russian  MIR TV is broadcasting under the intergovernmental agreement. There is no talk about shutting down hundreds of foreign broadcasters that are available on cable networks, satellites,  it is only about a public multiplex. The purpose of the law is to broadcast programmes in the state language, to promote a state agenda, preserve the national identity, language and culture in the free public multiplex.

The West wants to take Belarusian industry under control

The Western interest in [the protests in] Minsk can be explained by its interests “in privatisation: in order to take control over its industry and its economy.”

Disproof

There is no evidence of any of the Western country planning to take control of the Belarusian industry and economy.

See similar disinformation messages the pro-Kremlin media used in the past to target Ukraine: West controls economy in Ukraine and Ukrainian economy will not survive without Russia.

Warsaw and Vilnius are worsening the political crisis in Belarus

Warsaw and Vilnius were the main sources of subversive activities against Belarus and against its union with Russia. The crisis is largely a man-made, and the “hands” grow from there. And now they are implementing their strategy in order to aggravate the political crisis inside Belarus.

Disproof

Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative about Belarus and the Western attempts to instigate colour revolutions. This message is based on ungrounded claims and a false dilemma about the direction of Belarus's political development. It is consistent with recurring pro-Kremlin narratives about Western aggressiveness towards Belarus and Russia and Polish aggressive intentions in particular, and about Western attempts to disrupt Belarusian-Russian relations.

Poland and Lithuania support the independence and territorial integrity of Belarus, and do not have any territorial claims against their neighbours. Poland and Lithuania, as well as the EU, have expressed support to people protesting in Belarus.