[home page][map of the server][new items ][forum][publications][hot issues]
The Moscow Times

TV6 Case Sets a Bad Example

January 15, 2002

The liquidation of TV6 is not, as much of the Western media insists on describing it, the end of independent national television in Russia. TV6 is independent of the government, but it is controlled by Boris Berezovsky, who openly acknowledges that it is politics, not business, that drives his interest in the television station. And his politics is to make trouble for the Kremlin.

Berezovsky's TV6, like Vladimir Gusinsky's NTV before the Gazprom takeover last year, may not have been a model of unbiased reporting, but it gave us a point of view different from that espoused by the state channels. We viewers will be the poorer without it.

What the word independent also does not apply to in this case is the judicial system. The Supreme Arbitration Court on Friday ordered the liquidation of TV6 on the basis of a now-nonexistent law, a law so inane and detrimental to business that the State Duma took the trouble to repeal it last year.

As Boris Nemtsov said after the TV6 decision, "any talk about the independence of Russia's judicial system will not be possible without an ironic smile." The U.S. White House also lamented the "strong appearance of political pressure on the courts."

The U.S. State Department said the case raises questions about freedom of the press. And there is reason to worry.

The message the TV6 case has sent to journalists in Russia, and to those who wish to control them, is strong.

After the TV6 ruling, journalists have been given more reason than ever to think twice about what they choose to report.

Grigory Yavlinsky and other liberal politicians hit the nail on the head in warning that regional authorities could interpret the outcome of the case as a green light to crack down on local independent press that dare to challenge them.

"There is no doubt that the liquidation of TV6 will lead to a chain reaction of prosecution of mass media in the regions," Yavlinsky said.

Regional leaders, who traditionally act on what they see as Moscow's cue, have a reputation for not tolerating dissent in the media. Nemtsov, in a comment he wrote for The Moscow Times in September, said that as much as 90 percent of regional media is already directly or indirectly controlled by local authorities.

With the perceived TV6 precedent from Moscow, the remaining independent voices in the regions could also be silenced. And, unfortunately, the odds are that nobody in Moscow would hear about their demise -- much less report on it.

See also:
the origianl at: http://www.themoscowtimes.com/stories/2002/01/15/005.html

The TV6 Case
The NTV Case

The Moscow Times, January 15, 2002

[home page][map of the server][new items ][forum][publications][hot issues]