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Read this: A News Cold War

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A News Cold War…

BBC sounds music Radio podcasts, this is the media show from BBC Radio 4 hello and welcome this week, we're going to focus on the war in Ukraine again, but this time as told in Russia where in fact the media is banned from calling this award the Special Operation is Putin's phrase noise is working hard to make sure it's his story that Russians here.

There's a new law against fake news some independent broadcasters have been shut down and some Western media have pulled out staff meanwhile, BBC News is staying and its increasing ITS services and Russia it's even advising Russians on how to get round some of the media restrictions and with the help of all of our guests you want to assess what information Russians are accessing and what impact that information is having let's begin in Russia via Christmas time is the car.

Honda ATV rain that was the only independent TV station in Russia until late last week when it was forced of air, thank you very much indeed for joining us for people don't know TV rain tell us about it.

Good evening launch this solution company this New Street station in 2008 is it doesn't tend to have our first broadcast we were shot down by the government first time on Wednesday or broadcasting the relaunch herself in internet after words managed to arrange satellite provide the racing etc by 2014 the beginning of this for actually TV head.

Million households in Russia is a lot and the company was shut down the second time in 2014 during the beginning of this word.

It was the first scenes of this word the cover enormous.

What was happening in Kiev citizens.

We were covering restaurant soldiers who participated in the war in Eastern Ukraine words Dorset was Broadcasting on internet and sometimes it out during last 12 years.

It was the only independent news TV source.

Play the Russian the only company has managed to survive somehow until last Thursday last Thursday actually company was shut down by the government last Tuesday it was December 6th Day of the war is broadcasting on on Thursday the seal with the company and founder of the company her name is Natalie CJ had to suspend the broadcasting because of the new law just mentioned and were you told to shut down to the authorities ring you up and say this must finish or did you make a calculation that the new law that you would have to it, was it happened last Tuesday it was 9:00 8:00 21 p.m.

New 7th regatta from agencies that and it is a radio station Where are blocked by providers.

It was a order of the general prosecutor's office.

Do you think it's the end of your company? It's hard to say now.

Yes, we spend at our broadcast now very busy, too.

Save our reporters reporters last days.

They had to clean those content even on those YouTube channel.

I hope it's going to be another another launch another lunch very soon or appreciate you joining us on the show today very you're going to be spending the whole edition with us.

Thank you very much and as we hearing from you the information available to Russians is clearly under severe pressure.

We also know that Russian state tv.

Isn't giving an accurate account of the war in Ukraine and in that context is a further question for us all to consider.

How does the BBC fit into this equation and the reason I asked the question is that on Monday the BBC announcer raft of new services designed to reach Russians let's understand that decision Jamie Angus is controller of BBC News output.

Commissioning Jamie thanks for joining us on the media show why is the BBC stepped into the space in this way will of course the BBC has been providing news in Russian for decades initially on a radio Services latterly digital services on the television which actually course run on TV rain on Dutch TV is spirit was talking about we only really been able to get our new through to Russian audiences on those digital platforms and of course in Good Times digital the brilliant way to disseminate news in in a society with cut a good tea, but of course the downside of us as we've seen particularly in the last week.

Is that when governments decide to significantly restrict access to the internet particularly from site based outside the country, then they can really squeeze the traffic and that's what we've seen the BBC Russian website for example of after a period of Incredible traffic growth in the first week of the

The blockage of that website and app and social media feeds member there was a huge decline in traffic.

So that's why we've introduced a new services.

We put some additional hours of shortwave radio and English but also some tiktok platform services in both English and Russian to try and make up for that fall in traffic to our existing sites.

You're not just offering new services.

You're also offering advice for example.

I'm reading from the BBC press release on this saying although tiktok suspended new content and live streaming in Russia we know the audiences are fine ways of getting to and sharing the content in other words.

They're getting around that you've also published in Russian a guide for people to use the dark Web to try and access some of these services your listing.

Is that not a reasonably antagonistic position for the BBC to be adopting and why have you decided it still worth doing what a course circumventing blocking is nothing.

The BBC World Service as a number of Markets we operate in so particularly are Iranians services are party services for audiences in a rounded also services we do for dancers in North Korea for example and whatever information were able to get into mainland China where we've also been blocked for many many years so encouraging audiences to circumvent blocking is nothing new for us and because it's absolutely right that give out information about freely available VPN services and also the syphon service and the tor browser the so-called dark web browser that would allow people to continue to access the service you can see from traffic that they are continuing to access them because although traffic is falling significantly it hasn't fallen 20 so that we know the sum of digital information with publishing from outside of Russia is continue to get through an absolutely vital lifeline service to our audiences inside the country.

This conflict in the Western design outcomes in this conflict.

I wonder if the BBC consulted with the UK foreign office before an ounce in these measures know it's something we've decided to on around very much in line with other circumvention Legends we've used in the past.

It's very very important to underline that the Russian state often seeks to paint the BBC World Service on arm of the UK government but of course as our audiences nowhere nothing of the Salisbury independent public service broadcaster funded by the UK licence fee Perth and therefore.

That's why BBC News Russian station is so widely trusted in the country and indeed caused BBC News Ukrainian services inside Ukraine and they've never been more needed and they are now so no discussions whatsoever between BBC news in the UK government with regards to her BBC covers this complete.

It's not it's not the government's job or position to tell the BBC how to cover the conflict are editorial independence from the UK government is assured and underlined by the

Bodean's having it so you know that as well as I do because you present for Donna international services and I wonder as well as we took Jamie very if we could bring you in from TV rain.

Do you think this is an appropriate contribution for a British broadcaster to be making into the Russian Media ecosystem through information is essential and personally is a user.

It doesn't matter should I use VPN or other channels of information? I think it is essential right now.

It is really complicated to get information.

So that's why I totally support the decision of the you support it.

Let's also bringing Olga tarasova.

Who's editor-in-chief for riddle Russia it's an online journal covering Russian use your based in Berlin Olga I wonder if you.

And your Russian friends and colleagues see the BBC is as a helpful and a credible source of information at this perilous moment for your part of the world.

I'm ok.

Thanks for having me so I can only prayers for this decision, but I would also say that unfortunately this this solution does not address the problem of false the fact that are steel most Russians watch TV news and according to the different used a Russian official information as the main source of their information about the world but in a few months.

I do hope that menu for people will be interested in getting not at non-official information in getting alternative information because the function suite a harder Russian population and as there will be more news about the death of the Russian soldiers in Ukraine more and more people will be interested in alternative.

And I do hope that your viewer stupid will increase significantly in the next few months August thank you.

I know you won't be going to be staying with me before I let you go.

I just wonder what the BBC's endgame here is because if you are taking a position which actively undermined the wishes of Russia's government is the BBC in some way position as well on whether that government should be in charge in Russia should be setting the rules in Russia because we don't have an editorial position on that we are operating within the rules of Uno Media rules were changed in a in a real Harry towards the end of last week very quick legislation passing through the Duma the BBC rightly paused its operations in order to give us a chance to look at that legislation ensure that our staff can operate operate freely and safely in the country and we resumed our broadcasting the early part of this week in English only.

Moscow in the light of the legal and operational advice that we've taken a bit of course the provision of free and independent information is not in any sense of attack on the Russian state.

It's simply part of the world service station as it has been for a number of decades and you know even though people will try to paint it in in in that like that sort of course.

Not why we do it is just part of the world service mission which will continue to thank you very much indeed.

Jamie's controller BBC News output and commissioning and listening to jayme angers was Peter pomerantsev author of this is not propaganda.

Peter was born in the Soviet Union also Julia Davies economist with the Daily Beast in the US who specialises in Russian media and Peter and Julie your love just both been listening to that discussion Peter I wonder how you view the medias role within the Russian Media ecosystem at the moment.

So there is also another aspect that we need to think about.

Property the situations influx Russian state Media state Media which you know is essentially using dehumanising language in order to make possible the mass murder of ukrainians calling Russian opposition of vermin literally in order to make it possible to oppress them very very brutally watch Russian state Media you see Nazi and then you have this weird moments when it's followed by advertising for Western companies now Western companies are leaving the Russian market, but not all of them and every day.

We are finding this machine if you switch on just before the Strictly Come Dancing for example which real the viewer in they stay for the 8th propaganda before you go on pizza.

Let's just play.

Play the BBC and other Western media companies have stopped licencing certain entertainment shows in Russia he's a BBC statement saying the BBC the BBC is revealed that the executive team and decided to stop all content licencing licencing to Russian customers in common with other media organisations, so is your pretty that this isn't enough in and of itself as you're pretty that it should never been happening for the last few years.

I think so early should have been happening for for several years people have been talking about this since 2014.

There's something just very very wrong with licencing entertainment 22 Media Russia grouting about others who then use that to real you was in and and distribute their their hate propaganda.

I'm not a lawyer very welcome at 7 from BBC Studios on ITV about a similar one as I say the situations and Flux but stop in licencing is that really enough you know can we do more to get them to stop broadcasting now.

List raise an issue also not other companies.

I'm glad you cheers have reacted.

I think I still questions about other large entertainment companies, but let's bring Julian and explore this idea the extreme messaging around the conflict is in some way being normalised or being prepared for consumption by the programming around those news broadcast Julia what's your thoughts on then? He is completely on the right track with what he said and I actually heard the Russian state Media trying to rationalise why entertainment g are no longer available.

They're trying to say it's because people are more interesting news right now clearly.

They are not telling the truth about why these companies and entertainment g are no longer available to Russians in I think that will be the key of for more people to start questioning the information.

They're getting on state TV and seeking out alternative.

Formation and a BBC making those efforts to make it available will be crucial in that sense and I wonder whether you and Peter perhaps.

You could come in on this first whether you see what the BBC is doing now via newer platforms like TiK ToK is really any different to what BBC World Service voice of America Radio free Europe and others have been doing for a long time is this different.

I think it is it's innovative.

It's reaching out to wider audiences in formats that are popular.

I think it's a great idea.

So it's different terms of the platform, but in terms of the principle behind the idea that Western media organisations should seek to innovate in order to get their message to an audience like Russia's current audience which has it access to information restricted.

Do you have any issue with that?

You're asking the wrong person the reason I sound like an English person because my parents who was exiled.

I've been arrested by the KGB in the 70s my dad got a job at the world service in the cold war child of Bush House so so I'm probably the wrong person to ask I think should be more.

I think we should be funding in much more.

I think we're still far behind the Russians and the Chinese Andrea about what is democratic Communications in the 21st Century I think we should be much much much more as you watch Western organisations making this move.

Do you think there's a risk the by another's could appear to have been weaponized even by the West and it's general strategy to counter Russia

Say that I'm a bit of free that the Russian government can I use your efforts on their hands by saying and already she's waiting information on propaganda campaign against Russia and they were just repeat this statement.

I tell that uses Luke they are finding new services.

They are providing more money to deceive you spread lies about what's going on in the Queen and for a time being at least the uses of thrushes official narrative David by the insurance will organise Russian journalist based in Berlin let's pick up on that last point you make about the creation of narratives because I

One aspect of the story as told through Russian Media is the restriction of information but another crucial aspect is the way that Russia is seeking to create its own narrative around this war let's see how it's going about that Dr Ian Ghana's also joining as he's a historian who specialises in Russian propaganda, and Dr Connor's you watch the Russians construct their now save over what they're doing in Ukraine how do you assess its success?

Narrative the attempted to construct as old routes in the Soviet Union and Influence Russia the government under Putin years preceding the myth of World War II as being the moment where Russia stood alone and defended itself sacrifice 25mm in order to stop the fascist destroy the entirety of humanity hyperbolize version of this story dimensions entertainment shows for The West we also see World War II kind of entertainment shows bigdramas big blockbuster movies that have come out state-funded over the last few years and essentially since 2014.

It's a tented think Ukraine us a new fascist threat to Russia government is run by Nazis is run by fascists and now it's trying to activate that propaganda in a new way.

Sing the time has come if we don't go in to attack Ukraine then everything will fall apart and Russia itself.

It's under unfortunately.

I don't think that a narrative is very success through to anyone except the most converted religion is Believers and I'm interested the reference World War II we heard president zelensky address the House of Commons yesterday a video link from Kiev and he reference Winston Churchill's famous speech about fighting on the beaches.

He adapted it for the Ukrainian situation, but it played into the importance that WWII has in shaping how the West sees complex does the same thing occur in a Russian context?

All absolutely I mean we seeing all these narratives be pushed forward, but the government is doing it in a rather cat has an inconsistent way on the problem it has with doing this is that the ukrainians are also the inheritors of World War II was also a huge sacrifice in Ukraine makes reference the idea of care as a new hero city, which is a Soviet term for the great cities that Winston the Nazi on his is making reference to key of a new Stalingrad which causes a Russian battle and they have Heroes they have what the Russian government doesn't have you mentioned at the top of the programme the best recording of this is still just a special operation the Russian government doesn't have any Martyrs it doesn't have any heroes of its own because it won't even talk about this as it is a war.

It won't you're quite right and in fact they've made it illegal for Media to use the word War it has to be referenced as a special operation and Julia is you listen to Dr Ghana and the the point is making about the construction of narrative.

How do you see the Russians innovating or changing? How they go about constructing narratives.

We know state tv is important, but it's not the only thing being used by so where else are you seeing them working hard to create their own stories around this to change them because it was obviously ridiculous from the answer to represent a country with a Jewish president as a Nazi country.

They already sleeping up in starting to admit that it was really all about it landgrab about solidifying the annexation of Crimea demanding that Ukraine recognise that and also that they recognise the

Dependence of these so-called Republics and also today on stage TV I heard them openly say that this was really about making sure that Ukraine is forever neutral and never do Schneider so I think they even they are realising that this Nazi ideas not sticking their adding to that the so-called bio weapon supposedly developed in in the labs in Ukraine there anything to that the allegation that Ukraine was about to attack the bus and Russia using nuclear weapons building dirty nuclear bomb there exposing their hand in the not being certain of their own conspiracy theory and creating multitude of others to try to justify there invasion Factor so multifaceted narrative.

You're describing Julia Dr Ghana must ask you about telegram.

We see it being referenced a lot with reference to Russian Media some listeners won't have encountered it.

69 what is a service and why we need to consider it when we look at the construction of Russia's narrative somewhat encrypted all those debatable messaging service something like WhatsApp or signal which is more widely used in Western Europe extremely popular and rush of the something like 3738 million Russians use it to message each other and make phone calls, but also as a source of news and there is a really large independent channels as well as state channels channels with millions of followers any narratives, they like and so we're seeing a disinformation misinformation war Claire that Facebook is really beyond governments control.

Thank you very much indeed.

I can see you wanting to come in here.

How important do you believe telegram another newer platforms are in terms of the information Russians are finding.

It's very important and also YouTube but I understand here it has become alternative to the TV for my new are Russians but I add something about the narrative Ian just said that there are Russian TV cannot show their own Martyrs because it's not a war yeah.

That's Media don't call this war they call it a special operation, but at the same time on Sunday news in the evening the first channel.

It's one or the 2 most popular TV channels state TV channels in Russia it showed the pictures of Russian military undoing them for the things they did in Ukraine and the problem actually showed the pictures and said like this person killed to our national is this person destroyed 10 times etc etc.

So there are trying to create.

Creating Heroes or at least they're trying to I would like to finish where we began with vera from TV rain and just in the last few seconds of the programme vera do you have hope that media may become 30 once again in the future? I have no answer right now.

No hope Franklin in this it is really very complicated to produce anything from inside the country.

It's about safe and no I'm not optimistic at all right now.

Thank you very much indeed for speaking to us all the same that's been quicker Sky app co-founder of TV rain we also heard from Jamie Angus control BBC News output and commissioning Dr Ian Garner historian a Russian propaganda, Peter Lawrence f author of this is not propaganda.

Olga is over editor-in-chief at riddle, Russia and Juliet

Columnist at the Daily Beast and I should also mention the vera is directed the documentary about TV rain it's called Tango with Putin and it's available now on the BBC iPlayer don't forget you can also catch past editions of the media show via the BBC Sounds app what you can download onto your smartphone at any point the media show will be back at the same time next week but for now.

Thank you very much to our guests.

Thanks for those of you for listening.


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