Don’t do it: why the Foreign Agent designation is welcomed by RT and Sputnik

The discussion on whether to classify the broadcasters RT, formerly Russia Today, and Sputnik as foreign agents under the Foreign Agents Registration Act is full of nuance, most of which is absent in the public debates over the topic. The fundamental question at issue is whether these two broadcasters are under both the direction and receiving funding from the Kremlin. There is no debate over the latter, while management of both unconvincingly disputes the former. But as we ask the question, we should know not just why we are asking, but what is the outcome we seek to achieve. Continue reading “Don’t do it: why the Foreign Agent designation is welcomed by RT and Sputnik”

Inaccuracies of Christian Science Monitor’s Moscow Correspondent

The American public has been losing confidence in the media for some time. A causal factor may be the now-decades-old reversion of the news as a profit center, and away from the “public good” that it had been for most of the 20th Century. Another factor surely is the democratization of information gathering as the former gatekeepers, whether a newspaper or wire service or TV network, were displaced by the “friends and family” plan of acquiring, sharing, and commenting on news events. Continue reading “Inaccuracies of Christian Science Monitor’s Moscow Correspondent”

Sputnik: ‘RT as a Foreign Agent’ is about BBG scaremongering for more money

In case you missed it, see my RT as a Foreign Agent. This was a follow up to Edward Delman’s article at The Atlantic which asked whether RT is a lobbyist based on a suggestion from a member of the Russian Duma. Ilya Ponomarev, currently in exile in California due to his opposition to the invasion of Crimea, had said that RT was not a media organization. ‘I think it’s a lobbying tool,’ he told Buzzfeed, ‘and it should be regulated as a lobbyist rather than media.’  Continue reading “Sputnik: ‘RT as a Foreign Agent’ is about BBG scaremongering for more money”

RT as a Foreign Agent

In July 1941, the Nazi news agency Transocean, was convicted for failing to register as an agent of a foreign government. Recently, a member of Russia’s Duma suggested that a Kremlin organization operating in the United States be designated as a lobbyist under the same law. In response to Ponomarev’s allegations, Edward Delman looked at this idea in The Atlantic. Delman suggested that Voice of America (VOA) and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) are some kind of analogues to RT. Continue reading “RT as a Foreign Agent”

Russia Today (RT) expands into San Francisco, claims ratings success in Washington and New York

As the debate over whether Al Jazeera English should be available in the United States continues, Russia Today, the Russian government’s international news channel, quietly makes inroads across the United States. Kim Andrew Elliott, audience analyst at the International Broadcasting Bureau, a unit of the Broadcasting Board of Governors, draws our attention to a press release from RT from 11 February 2011:

RT, an international TV news channel, has launched its English-language feed, 24×7, on San Francisco’s major cable provider, Comcast, which brings it to approximately 4 million viewers in the San Francisco metro area.

In the U.S., RT is carried by cable networks in New York, NY; Chicago, IL; Washington, DC; and in Los Angeles, CA. …

Nielsen Media research showed RT’s average daily audience in Washington, DC, as exceeding that of Deutsche Welle, France 24, Euronews, and CCTV News, the English-language Chinese news channel. In New York metro, the Nielsen survey indicated that RT’s daily audience exceeds the average daily audience of Deutsche Welle, Al Jazeera English and CCTV News.

Almost one-half (42.6%) of RT viewers* in Washington, DC, and in New York, NY,** appreciate RT’s critical take on news of the day, as well as its different stance from the mainstream media, and see it as a reliable alternative. The majority (87%) of respondents consider mainstream TV channels, such as CNN and BBC America, to be partisan. …

RT, an international TV news channel in English, Spanish, and Arabic is carried in the US by cable TV providers in Washington, DC; New York, NY; Los Angeles, CA; San Diego, CA; and now in San Francisco, CA.  GlobeCast WorldTV, a satellite provider, makes RT available elsewhere in the U.S.  RT broadcasts 24×7 from its studios in Moscow, Russia, as well as from Washington, DC, in the U.S.  All of its content is available live at www.RT.com.

It is ironic that foreign governments, be they China or Russia or Iran or the United Kingdom, or terrorists, can freely broadcast to Americans – increasingly from studios within the U.S. At one time, such foreign government material was officially considered propaganda. Today, it is only the U.S. Government media that is considered propaganda and off-limits to audiences who request them. Isn’t it time to revisit this?

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