What kind of danger does the Russia Today TV-channel threaten the USA with? The answer is plain — with an ability to quickly win over the sympathies of the viewers. Currently its auditory makes up 380 million people from around the world. RT is not trying to hide the fact, that American public is vitally important for it. And they’re making certain progress in that field.
According to the data of «Nielsen Media Research», RT placed first among the foreign information channels in Washington D.C. and District of Columbia in general. At that, prime-time auditory of English Al-Jazeera, which placed second, is 6.5 times smaller.
According to the data of «Synovate» agency, in October of 2009 European auditory of RT in six countries only — including Germany, France and Italy — made up 7 million people, while 23% of the poll respondents dubbed it «their favorite news channel».
In Great Britain, according to the «Kantar Media», RT auditory exceeds 2 million viewers. «While British opinion about of Russia in general has improved for 17%, when it comes to British RT viewers, this number makes up 41%. Extent of people’s awareness about Russia increased for 70% among our viewers and for 30% among British population in general» — states Margarita Simonyan, RT Editor-in-Chief.
One of American viewers splendidly expressed the common attitude to the RT: «I believe, that one has to watch news at RT, Al-Jazeera, France 24, BBC (to the lesser degree) in order to get the real information about what’s going on in the world and at home». This opinion was voiced up at the RT Internet forum.
Channel also has the achievements to be boasted of in the Internet. Youtube channel of Russia Today has 250 million visits. You may compare it to 30 million visits of Al-Jazeera, and 2.5 million visits of CNN International. At that Russian TV-channel even manages to make money on its Internet activity. So the Youtube page, for example, has recently brought an income of $200.000.
Simultaneously with the English version, RT has launched two more channels: Rusiya al-Yaum in Arabian and RT En Espanol in Spanish, which is the latest RT project, that aired the last year.
Auditory of the Arabian channel makes up approximately 350 million people in Northern Africa, Middle East and Europe. Its popularity is rapidly increasing. According to the Google Analytics data, only during the first three months of 2009, 2.5 million people visited its web-site — a year from that its attendance increased 26 times. According to the poll, that Iraqi Al-Raj TV-channel conducted, 40 thousand Iraqi believe Al-Jazeera and Rusiya al-Yaum to be the most objective channels.
How does the USA fight the «new threat»?
The easiest way is claiming RT to be unworthy of serious public attention. As D. Oreshkin — Russian political scientist, close to a so-called liberal opposition — claimed, his American friends are laughing at RT news. However, there’s a great probability, that those friends of his are the representatives of the same U.S. circles, who fund the activity of NGOs in Russia, which Mr. Oreshkin is cooperating with.
There’s a quite different attitude to the channel in the USA itself. Walter Isaacson — chair of Broadcasting Board of Governors, who’s quite keen in these issues — believes the «funny» RT TV-channel to be a threat for the USA. While celebrating the «Liberty» radio anniversary, he claimed, that American Congress should undertake certain measures, because «rivals like Russia Today are gradually outdoing us, their voice is getting stronger». That, perhaps, was the incentive for Hillary Clinton’s Senate speech and there’s a great chance, that money for extra funding would be allotted.
So, where the shoe pinches?
So what are people like Isaacson and Hillary Clinton afraid of? Pluralism and alternative point of view, mostly are these things — the exact concepts, that Washington called for its propagandistic target-countries to stick to. The USA — that considers an entire world to be the zone of its national interests — grew so accustomed of the mentor’s role and teaching everyone how to live, that they start getting nervous, when someone else stands up against it, using their own tools. They don’t mind, if American point of view dominates on the Russian air, yet they become very anxious, if Russian point of view about the USA appears on American air.
In 1990 American political scientist J. Nye in his book «Bound to lead. The Changing Nature of American Power» has applied the term «soft power». Nye names values, culture, policy and institutions of the respective state, which it projects onto the surrounding world, to be the «currency» of above-mentioned «soft power». According to this challenged concept, international broadcasting is one of the essential means of exercising the «soft power». U.S. leaders have repeatedly used the latter term, while working out the to-be-broadcasted concepts, that fit the current or long-term situation the best.
For the justice sake we have to mention, that American specialists have various points of view upon this issue. D. Jensen — analyst from the Center of Transatlantic Relations of the International Research School in John Hopkins University — agrees, that international broadcasting is essentially important. Yet, he’s not delighted of the current state of international broadcasting in America — mostly because journalism is often indistinguishable from presenting the information in a way, that benefits certain foreign-policy goals of America. «I support spreading the ideas of democracy and human rights protection with the help of international broadcasting in each and every way, but I fiercely oppose the bureaucratization of the process» — Jensen states.
Above-mentioned R. Johnson thinks, that «international broadcasting cannot be a propagandistic tool, yet it should be the mean of spreading the objective information about America around the world».
Numerous American analysts believe Russia to be seeking for the post-imperial role in the world. It, however, decided to mend fences with every key player on the planet and tries not to confront the global power centers. In the Soviet times, Russian diplomats had a habit to veto all the resolutions, that the USA approved. Today Russia abstains from the vote on Libyan issue, thus joining China, India, Brazil and Germany. Russia opposes itself to no one, not even the USA — yet the Jackson-Vanik amendment, that was adopted in 1974, is still effective, although since then Russian borders have been so wide open, that former Soviet Jews hold the posts in the government, public and other authoritative institutions.
The decades have passed and the relationship of two powers has been «reset», but the information war is still one for some reason.
Here are few characteristic examples.
While commenting the Russo-Japanese discords on the Kurile issue, American media repeatedly «reminds», that Russia occupied the islands in 1945 and doesn’t hurry to return them. As if there was no capitulation of Japan, which both Russian and American representatives have accepted, no peace treaty, according to which Kuriles and South Sakhalin have been returned to the USSR for good — both Japan and America signed it.
When it comes to Russian entry to WTO, American media unleashes the materials about Russian «inadequate» response to Georgia. Sergey Lavrov — Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs — is already tired of giving commentaries, regarding that matter.
British informational agency Reuters has published the material, claiming, that, when the radiation cloud from destroyed Japanese power plant in Fukushima headed towards the Atlantic Ocean, Russian energetic industry was silently rejoicing the misfortune of its rivals. How despicable can that sadistic insinuation be? Russia has never been glad because of the foreign troubles; we even have a saying on the subject.
Reasonable question emerges then — when do the media start exchanging good and bad news and communicating the truth, rather than fighting an informational war. Even ancient people used to say, that you can’t deceive many people for a long time. As for now, there’s already no way to do so.