«Talking heads» on state television channels: Who they are and what they are broadcasting

«Talking heads» on state television channels: Who they are and what they are broadcasting

Monitoring of the major state-owned TV channels

iSANS Collage
12.05.2021 Andrei Yeliseyeu

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  1. Russian and Ukrainian propagandists and public figures as guest commentators are in the majority
  2. Belarusian commentators are employees of state institutions or pro-governmental organizations
  3. The dominance of recurring pro-Kremlin propaganda messages and conspiracy theories

Russian and Ukrainian propagandists and public figures as guest commentators are in the majority

Monitoring of 45 weekly news programs on the major state-owned TV channels Belarus 1, ONT and STV (Glavnyi Efir, Kontury, and Nedelya, respectively) in early August – late November 2020 identified 257 comments of political events in Belarus by guest commentators. Their analysis revealed the following trends:

  • Russian and Ukrainian propagandists and public figures as guest commentators are in the majority;
  • Belarusian commentators are employees of state institutions or pro-governmental organizations;
  • The dominance of recurring pro-Kremlin propaganda messages and conspiracy theories.

In the period under review, Belarusian individuals accounted for less than half of the comments on STV, and less than a quarter of the comments on Belarus 1 and ONT. That is, most of the Belarusian events were interpreted by foreign citizens.

Many of the Russians and Ukrainians commenting on political events in Belarus are well-known pro-Kremlin propagandists, radio and TV presenters (Armen Gasparyan, Alexander Sosnovsky, Vladimir Solovyov, Vladimir Kornilov, etc.) who have been commenting on events in Russia, Ukraine and other post-Soviet (and not only) countries for years. Following the 9 August 2020 elections in Belarus, they immediately re-qualified as «experts» on Belarus.

Belarusian commentators are employees of state institutions or pro-governmental organizations

Belarusian citizens represented on the air as commentators on political events were employees of state research institutions, state functionaries in the media sphere, representatives of pro-governmental organizations and associations, or publicists and frequent guests of pro-Kremlin media. In the period under review only one brief commentary was not complementary towards the Belarusian authorities.

The dominance of recurring pro-Kremlin propaganda messages and conspiracy theories

The specific set of commentators predetermined the propagandistic and manipulative nature of their statements. Recurring propaganda messages were statements about the reasons for mass protests as a Western provocation and «color revolution» technologies, the puppet status of leaders and participants of

the movement for fair elections, the absence of Ukraine’s sovereignty and its total socio-economic degradation, authoritarianism and absence of fair elections, the separation of ruling elites from the population in Western countries, and also about an alliance with Russia as the only possible option for successful development of Belarus.

The above-mentioned observations concerning the guest commentators in the news programs on the Belarusian state-owned TV channels largely remain relevant as of today.

Read the full report «Talking Heads» on State Television Channels: Who they are and what they are broadcasting.

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