Propaganda: How Much does Good Political Image Cost?
Getting a good review on central television is expensive. The regional authorities expect a pretty penny for this. Sofia Savina calculated how many officials in the Russian regions spend on positive media about their successes on the main channels. An interactive map will allow you to compare costs and see the most wasteful customers.
Central television in Russia is controlled by the largest media holding, the All-Russian State Television and Radio Broadcasting Company (VGTRK). They broadcast in every part of the country and have more than 80 branches in every region.
In addition to VGTRK, there is, for example, GTRK "Yaroslavia," the same state television and radio, but especially made for the Yaroslavl oblast. The company broadcasts local information on the TV channels "Russia 1," "Russia 24," and on the air of "Radio of Russia" in a specially designated time.
Every year VGTRK receives hundreds of contracts from regional administrations. 2017 has not yet ended, but already VGTRK has concluded 530 agreements, most of which (according to our estimates - about 300) are related to informing about the activities of the authorities in the regions.
According to an employee of one of the regional branches of VGTRK is 40% composed of coverage on the work of governors, for which the branch is generously paid from the local budget. Another 25% of activities are for city and regional deputies and is paid by the regional parliament.
"Information coverage," sometimes the "accompaniment" of activities, is vague wording, which on paper is drawn as a state contract between the authorities and VGTRK. Another formulation is "broadcasting official information." Someone also used the expression "information service for the administration’s activities."
Sometimes the customer prescribes the subject of the contract rectilinearly - "programs on the activities of deputies" or "placing ordered videos." Often, contracts for the posting of information contain the words "for the needs of the governor" or "for the needs of the government."
They also order "the placement of programs with the participation of government officials" on television and radio, dictating even the formats: interviews or "live broadcasts." In the Kirov oblast they have a whole separate program, "Pure Talk with the governor. " They also signed a contract in which they registered the tonality of the issues, the customer paid for 80 programs "for positive socially significant events in the life of the region."
In Trans-Baikal Krai such programs are given a different name. The Governor's Affairs Department ordered a TV program "In the First Person." The same department paid VGTRK for the production of reports for the"Vesti Government."
Contracts with VGTRK are concluded not only by the first persons of the region. Placement of their TV and radio content is ordered by the regional ministries of agriculture. For example, the Ministry of Agriculture of the Penza oblast in the contract indicated the name of the program about his work "Rural news." In the Arkhangelsk region, VGTRK ordered a "TV program covering the activities of law enforcement agencies of the oblast." The Main Directorate of the Ministry of the Interior of Kemerovo oblast also are in their second year ordering from VGTRK a television program called “Oper-TV”.
What is this card?
Russiangate estimated how many officials in the Russian regions paid VGTRK for a PR in 2017. The interactive map shows regions where local authorities at least once ordered information about themselves on central television or radio.
Regions are colored in different ways: intensity means the amount of money spent by the authorities on contracts with VGTRK. Some Russian regions are not painted - it means that this year they have not yet used the PR services of the central TV channels and radio stations directly.
When hovering over the region, you can see spending, the sum of all contracts. In addition, there will be information on the most expensive agreement concluded by the local government this year, with its value and the customer.