Pervyi Kanal and the Lost Billions

Pervyi Kanal and the Lost Billions
08 June 2020 | 16:26

Pervyi Kаnal, a famous TV channel in Russia, has been the most popular TV channel in the independent state of Moldova for 28 years. Last year, it recorded losses of over €51.63 million (4 billion rubles). It is possible that every year, Moldova suffers higher losses due to this TV channel, but they are not measured and calculated properly.

Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russian TV stations have never withdrawn from Moldova, exactly like the 14th Army that is stationed on the left bank of the Nistru River. 

A plurality of voices is good. It allows people in Moldova to find out what is happening in Russia. However, Pervyi Kаnal has never shown what is really happening in Russia, Moldova, or other post-Soviet states. Pervyi Kаnal always broadcast what Russian leaders and their affiliates want to see. 

Pervyi Kаnal’s presence in Moldova has been linked to the political decision-makers. These political decision-makers controlled both the presence of Russian TV stations in Moldova and the flow of money from advertising that ran on the screens. Pervyi Kаnal favored through news made in Moscow or in Chișinău former Presidents of Moldova, Vladimir Voronin, Petru Lucinschi, a fugitive oligarch Vladimir Plahotniuc, and now the TV channel builds a positive image to the current head of the state, Igor Dodon. 

Now Pervyi Kаnal shows news about Dodon, his upcoming visit to Moscow, or his previous visits there.

Moldovan citizens read news about Dodon from newsrooms affiliated to the Kremlin or to Dodon. Among the films and shows, these newsrooms broadcast news from Kremlin. 

Pervyi Kаnal in Moldova reported that “Crime decreases,” “Dodon is the people’s favorite,” “Dodon is the most suitable politician to be a president.” The news about Dodon, and about the Socialist Party deputies, is usually positively biased. The news do not present a critical point of view. The news about the opposition or other parties is negatively biased, in most cases. 

Definitely, we will not find the news about human rights activists and what is happening to them on the Moscow nor Chișinău portals of Pervyi Kаnal. We will not find out that journalist Ilya Azar was arrested for protesting alone, and then other journalists and activists were arrested for demanding Azar’s release. We will not find out about the previous arrests of Putin’s opponents. We will not even find out that on June 1 the police shot a man from Ekaterinburg in the doorway. The man was accused of stealing some wallpapers. After he was killed, the alleged wallpaper was not found in his house.

We will not even find out that this channel is loss-making while working year after year. Last year, this channel incurred losses of about €90.35 million (7 billion rubles). Moldova is incurring bigger losses due to this Kremlin TV channel – loss of confidence in the plurality of voice, in unbiased journalism, in professional ethics, and in politicians who believe they have a bright and flawless image due to their biased TV channels that do not criticize them and polish their image. These politicians do not see the real life of the citizens, they only see themselves in Pervyi Kаnal’s TV shows and news, and the citizens lose their chance to be seen by political leaders.

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