Growing Pains: Russian Democracy and the Election of 1993

By Timothy J. Colton; Jerry F. Hough | Go to book overview

CHAPTER SEVEN
Television and the Campaign

Laura Roselle Helvey

THE DECEMBER 1993 Russian parliamentary election provides a unique opportunity to study and assess the role of television in the Russian political process. Before one can study the relationship between media message and vote choice, one should understand what messages are presented and how they were shaped in the first place. This chapter analyzes the rules for and the content of television campaign programming during the 1993 parliamentary elections and argues that to understand television coverage one must distinguish among party agendas, government agendas, and journalistic agendas. It is too simple to argue that, "the State Television Company, Ostankino, headed by [Vyacheslav] Bragin of Russia's Choice, much resembled in its political reporting one long 'infomercial' for the 'governing party.'" 1

Careful analysis shows that this was not the case. Advertising and free time rules were not biased in favor of Russia's Choice. What differed was the manner in which parties exploited the opportunities for media coverage of particular agendas or themes. Even in television news, where one can argue that government could shape coverage to support Russia's Choice, the primary themes were legitimation of the processes of democratic election and the adoption of the constitution. Support for Russia's Choice was sec

____________________
I am grateful to Timothy Colton and Jerry Hough for the opportunity to participate in their national election survey. Elon College also supported this research in the form of a Faculty Research and Development Grant, Summer 1994. Sarah Oates at Emory University contributed with assistance in taping and coding television broadcasts. Catherine Shapiro gave helpful comments on earlier drafts.

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