Editor's Notes on RT April 2017

Editor's Notes

A failure's clarion call:

'Never accept responsibility for anything, find

someone to blame: so Russia is the clear target'

True North Perspective exposes the real Russian meddlers

Obama and Kerry vainly tried to warn critical Americans

as U.S. millions turned to RT from lies on corporate media

[If you can't find RT on your television set go to RT.com on your computer. You be the judge of whether it is delivering news and analysis or propaganda.]

Image: True North Perspective Editor and Publisher Carl Dow. Photo by the Phantom Phographer.For years now we have been hearing the panicked cries of American and European officials, journalists and media executives about Russia “winning the information war” thanks to the virtually endless stream of financing that flows from the bottomless pockets of the Russian government to RT, and to a slightly lesser extent, Rossiya Segodnya/ Sputnik, Russia’s new information agency and radio service. The way the mainstream media tells it, cash-strapped Western outlets simply cannot compete with Russia’s well-funded “propaganda machine.”

At least twice, on separate occasions, both U.S. president Obama and secretary of state Kerry tried but failed to warn Americans against RT (Russia Today) propaganda.
They had good reason to be concerned. RT was inspired by Russian president Putin who said why do we allow the Western corporate media to dominate international news? So he assigned 25-year-old Margarita Simonyan as Editor-in-Chief and Alexey Nikolov as Managing Director of RT, to get the job done.

Under Ms. Simonyan’s helm, RT, became the only Russian TV network to garner three International Emmy nominations for news coverage, took gold at a Monte-Carlo TV Festival, as well as dozens of other media awards and accolades. RT also took the lead place on YouTube, where it is the #1 TV news network with more than 3 billion views.

(The statistics in this article are sourced from Ipsos. Ipsos is an independent market research company controlled and managed by research professionals. Founded in France in 1975, Ipsos has grown into a worldwide research group with a strong presence in all key markets. Ipsos ranks third in the global research industry. With offices in 86 countries, Ipsos delivers insightful expertise across six research specializations: advertising, customer loyalty, marketing, media, public affairs research, and survey management. Ipsos has been listed on the Paris Stock Exchange since 1999 and generated global revenues of €1,712,4 million (2 274 M$) in 2013, the latest year to which TNP had ready access.)

According to an Ipsos survey of TV news consumption conducted in 38 countries out of 100+ where RT broadcasts are available, 70 million people watch RT channels every week. Half of that number – 35 million – watch RT daily. 

RT enjoys its largest regional audience in Europe. More than 36 million people watch RT weekly in 10 European countries, placing it in the top 5 pan-regional news channels. RT also makes the top-5 list of most watched international TV news channels in the U.S., with a weekly audience of more than 8 million viewers.  

Eleven million watch RT weekly in the Middle East and Africa, where news consumers were polled in 16 countries. In India RT has weekly viewership of 7 million; only the English-speaking population, which accounts for just over 10% of the country’s total, was included in the study. 

"For the tenth anniversary of RT’s broadcasting we conducted the most extensive study of our TV viewership in the network’s history, covering 38 countries across Europe, Asia, North and South America, the Middle East and Africa, through Ipsos, a leading firm in audience research,” said Margarita Simonyan, RT’s editor-in-chief. “Thirty-five million watch us daily, and we are successfully competing with long-established channels worldwide. In 10 years we have truly succeeded in making our voice heard around the world." 

“Ipsos has decades of experience in international audience measurement, and we’ve worked with dozens of premiere broadcasters from around the world. We are happy that RT chose Ipsos to conduct their biggest audience survey yet,” – said Elie AOUN, CEO, Ipsos Connect MENAP. 

RT is an autonomous non-profit organization. Government funded just like CBC and BBC, among others.

The leaders behind the communications boom

Prior to heading up RT, Ms. Simonyan had reported from Chechnya during the Second Chechen Campaign, from the Beslan School Siege, and from Abkhazia, and she has received several journalism awards.
In 2005 when Margarita Simonyan was named editor in chief of Russia Today, it was Russia’s first 24/7 English-language news channel. After the launch of RT Arabic in 2007 and RT Spanish in 2009, she became editor-in-chief of the global multilingual television news network RT.
Alexey Nikolov Managing Director of RT

Alexey’s journalistic pursuits began in the early 1970s, when at just 13 years of age he published his first article. In the Soviet era, his career focused predominantly on sports journalism, which was largely devoid of political interference, and Alexey has reported on major sporting events, including the Olympics. During the Perestroika, Alexey began to cover general issues and in 1990 joined Russia’s first ever independent radio station Echo of Moscow, where he soon became a news anchor and a reporter. For this station he covered some of the most important events of the 90s in Russia, including the August Coup of 1991, the October 1993 Constitutional Crisis.

Since 1994 Alexey has mostly worked on Russian television. He was instrumental in launching the new national network, REN TV. At the same time he continued his love affair with sports journalism and still writes frequently on the subject for national newspapers and magazines. He also became Russia’s first golf commentator and occasionally serves in this capacity at Eurosport and Sport TV channels. Alexey is a winner of the prestigious Russian Union of Journalists’ award For Professional Excellence and several other industry awards. He is also a professor of Journalism at Sholokhov Moscow State University for the Humanities.

Alexey joined Russia Today (now RT) in 2005 and is now the Managing Director for the entire organization, including English, Arabic, and Spanish channels.

RT’s five YouTube channels combined have passed the 2 billion views benchmark, strengthening the channel’s role as the leading news provider on the popular video hosting service. Putting to shame CNN, Euronews, and Al Jazeera.

The five channels — English-language RT International and RT America and the channels in Arabic, Spanish and Russian — have more than 2.5 million subscribers.

RT’s Editor-in-Chief Margarita Simonyan says, “Such a significant number shows that RT continues to lead in promoting alternative opinions online — the space that was dominated by the mainstream media. We are proud of this, and we will continue working hard to remain YouTube’s number one TV news channel.”

Meanwhile, the myopic heads of the Western media fail to understand why they are losing ground to RT. Instead of acknowledging that their adherence to the line of the Washington military/industrial complex is being rejected throughout the world and at home, they present the silly argument that they are being out-financed by RT.

A BBC report warns the UK government that the broadcaster risks being marginalized by “disparate and dangerous” foreign rivals such as RT, and Russia is one of the countries spending cash on its foreign channel in ways the UK “cannot match.”

'Britain and U.S. losing global information war'

The former head of BBC World complains to The Guardian that the BBC World Service is being “financially outgunned” by foreign news channels, RT included, and “Britain and the US are losing a global ‘information war’ with the Kremlin.”

RT is “lavishly funded,” echoes U.S. government-financed Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. The Netherlands is funding research on “how the EU can fight back against Russia’s ‘information war’” carried out by “well-funded Russian broadcasters, such as RT,” while a NATO official laments to the Financial Times that it takes “20 or so people in NATO’s public diplomacy team” to try “to counter an organized, multi-faceted, well-funded Russian operation that is going on across the world.”

For years now we have been hearing the panicked cries of American and European officials, journalists and media executives about Russia “winning the information war” thanks to the virtually endless stream of financing that flows from the bottomless pockets of the Russian government to RT, and to a slightly lesser extent, Rossiya Segodnya/Sputnik, Russia’s new information agency and radio service. The way the mainstream media tells it, cash-strapped Western outlets simply cannot compete with Russia’s well-funded “propaganda machine.”

Newsweek EU, in its discussion of President Putin’s comments about a western “propaganda machine,” claimed that RT’s budget for 2016 was $307 million dollars, which would leave the UK vulnerable to RT’s influence because “by contrast the BBC World Service’s own budget from the U.K. Foreign Office of $298 million was stopped in 2014.”

Newsweek lacks due diligence

Had Newsweek done due diligence, they would have noticed that, as stated many times before, RT received 17 billion rubles, or approximately 275 million dollars in funding for the year 2016. Then they went ahead and misrepresented the circumstance of BBC World Service’s funding, implying that it was cut off. That’s a far cry from the reality of BBC’s financing: the BBC World Service (which focuses primarily on radio and digital platforms, rather than round-the-clock TV programming, like RT) continues to receive annual subsidy of £245 million, sourced from the mandatory license fee, as well as supplementary £289 million over five years from the country’s security and defense budget. Furthermore, these figures do not even include the budget for BBC World News – UK's global television service. As such, BBC’s financial disadvantage vis a vis RT when it comes to global news broadcasting is pure fiction.

RT is an autonomous non-profit organization. Its budget for 2016 is set at 19 billion rubles, ($339 million USD) or about half that received by the BBC, never mind the millions that are poured into the coffers in American and European broadcasters aimed at the Russian audience.

RT financing pales by comparison

RT’s financing pales by comparison – and that is before taking into account the fact that the BBG and the BBC World Service are online and radio services only, and producing and distributing content for these platforms is dramatically cheaper than creating video material and broadcasting it via cable and satellite.

Even if RT’s budget was combined with that of Rossiya Segodnya/Sputnik (5.8 billion rubles, or $93 million/£60 million), the grand total would still be smaller than the financing of either the BBG or the BBC World Service.

What about RT’s more direct competitors in the TV space? Germany’s Deutsche Welle’s budget has just been increased to €294 million ($332 million). Al Jazeera’s budget largely remains a secret, but the Qatari broadcaster spent half a billion dollars in 2013 to buy Current TV in an effort to extend its U.S. reach.

And let us not forget CNN International and BBC World News. It's true that these are corporate-owned channels (in case of the BBC World News, it’s owned by BBC Global News Ltd, the commercial arm of the BBC) with no official financing coming from either the US or the UK governments; however, one would be hard-pressed to find a single international news report on either channel that strays from the official line of the State Department or the Foreign Office. As such, CNN and BBC are de-facto soft-power extensions of the American and British governments, where foreign policy is concerned. Meanwhile, their no doubt enormous budgets remain a mystery, unlike that of the fully transparent RT.

To sum up: on the one hand you have the BBC, CNN, Euronews, France24, Deutsche Welle, Al Jazeera America and the BBG’s Voice of America and Radio Europe all beaming their strikingly similar points of view on current events to a likely combined price tag of several billion dollars; on the other hand you have RT “winning the information war” at a fraction of that sum.

Clearly this victory is not a question of money.

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