‘All the Necessary Information is Provided by Russia’s Channels’. Russian-language Radio and TV in Latvia: Audiences and Content

Anda Rožukalne

Abstract


After Maidan events in Kiev at the end of 2013 and the annexation of Crimea in March 2014, discussions on the extent to which the Russian-speaking population in Latvia whose daily information is obtained mainly from Russian TV channels can get well-balanced and objective information about the events in Latvia, Russia, and other countries. Opinion surveys showed that a large proportion (41%) of inhabitants in Latvia who speaks speak Russian in the family support the annexation of Crimea and Russia's president Putin's policies (SKDS 2014a). These data led to think about the need for increasing the proportion of Latvian-made information in Russian and the discussion of the Russian TV channel formation in the public television.

Using secondary and primary data, the aim of the article is to analyse audio-visual media in the Russian language available for the Russian-speaking audience and the habits of the media usage, in order to assess whether diversified information in Russian is available to this group of society.

Semi-structured, qualitative interviews with media managers and the content analysis of public radio channel in Russian LR 4 news and current affairs broadcast were carried out in order to make a secondary data interpretation.

The research results show that the media usage patterns of the Russian-speaking population in Latvia are very stable. They do not feel the need for additional information channels, as they believe that the variety of information obtained from Russian TV channel offer is sufficient. The information offered in Latvian media in the Russian language is evaluated as less exciting and not professional enough. The number of audio-visual media channels and the audience's assessment shows that the available information in the Russian language in Latvia exceeds the audience share in the society but the radio channels in the case of the Russian-speaking audience is adequately covered.

However, the cancelation of media policy decision in 2015, when a project of a new public media TV channel in Russian was rejected, strengthens the dominance of Russia’s TV and radio channels in the Russian-speaking population.


Keywords


audio-visual media audiences; ethnic minority media, Russia's TV and radio channels,; Latvia

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