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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

A Different Way of Looking at Television Ratings

In response to "TV Viewers Want Time Warps, Not Chechnya," Feb. 20.


Elizabeth Owen's article begins: "Forget Chechnya and bring on the chuckles."

The current editor of TV-Park, Alexander Yurikov, advises his readers not to watch television news programs, particularly the news programs on NTV, which he considers, aside from the coverage of murders, not worth watching.

Here are a few comments of professional critics on NTV's news program:

?Izvestia: "Today, NTV is much more than simply a source of information. Perhaps it is a test of the survival of the rights of freedom of speech and thought under new conditions which have been acquired not so long ago."

?"If you want to hold up one station and say this is the future, it's NTV," says Nicky Lee, of Zenith Media, Russia.

According to another leading journalist, Yelena Nikolayeva from Moskovsky Komsomolets: "There has not been a single case in which the news program "Vremya" has outstripped "Segodnya." For a long time, "Segodnya" had been vying with Russian Television's "Vesti" for first place, but a year ago, "Segodnya" solidly took the lead." She considers that one of NTV's advantages is that, as an independent channel, it is not susceptible to becoming a semi-official press organ, as are other programs.

Now about the news hour "Itogi." Last December, "Itogi," led by Yevgeny Kiselyov, was named the leading news program by ComCon. Kiselyov was also awarded a prize by the American Committee on the Defense of Journalists for his personal contribution to the development of freedom of speech.

Yurikov considers that "Itogi" creates a "psychology of upheaval." Here is a excerpt from the Feb. 25 broadcast of "Itogi": "If you want everyone to like you or love you, you need to enter an entirely different profession [than journalism] Believe me, we journalists and the management at NTV understand full well that we are surrounded not only by friends and admirers, but by those who are not very fond of us, and sometimes, there are those who simply don't like us. And we understand this: that's life."

Alexander Nikolayevich [Yurikov], do you consider that these words are creating a "psychology of upheaval?" Of course I agree with you that ORT is "more correct and restrained in its news." But Moskovskaya Pravda published the results of a survey on the question of viewers' confidence in news programs which showed NTV to be ranked first, with 38 percent, Russian Television at 20 percent and ORT at 14 percent.

Elizabeth, you provided data which said that 8 percent of viewers watch NTV/Rossiiskiye Universitety (Russian Universities). First, Rossiiskiye Universitety is a separate channel, which belongs to Russian Television and whose ratings remain at 1 percent. Second, the ratings you give for viewers in European Russia --13 percent for RTR, 57 percent for ORT and 8 percent NTV -- are not correct, since the broadcasting range of NTV is much less that of RTR and even less so than ORT. A ComCon survey this February showed that ORT had 37 percent of the television viewers, RTR, 12.2 percent and NTV, 17.2 percent.

By the way, the program "Kukly" -- contrary to your statement that it is not among the Top 10 shows -- leads with a rating of 24.2 percent, according the Feb. 12 to 18 ComCon survey. This rating was published in TV-Park.

Maria Shakhova

Press Secretary NTV

Civil Free Speech

In Response to "Flag-Stompers Rally Against Reds," March 14.


Your article about a briefing at the Russian-American Press and Information Center (RAPIC) by the Antifascist Youth Action potentially damages RAPIC's well-founded and hard-earned reputation as a champion of freedom of speech and expression in Russia.

The article mentions a request by RAPIC program coordinator and briefing moderator Natalya Yakovleva that speakers refrain from the vulgar epithets (scoundrel, necrophile) that the group's leader had used in describing his political opponents. What your reporter misinterpreted as an attempt to curtail the speech of the group was in fact a simple call for civility, which was adhered to during the rest of the briefing.

Far from trying to restrict the group's right to free speech, RAPIC has in fact invited its members to speak many times over the past few years, in the interests of promoting pluralism of opinion. To invite speakers and then censor them is nonsensical. Part of what RAPIC is trying to do in Russia (and what its parent organization in the United States has been doing for over a decade) is to promote an open, pluralistic and informed dialogue on the major policy issues. To this end RAPIC has hosted political and other leaders from all parts of the political spectrum and continues to do so.

Unfortunately, in the United States as well as in Russia, the level of political dialogue has sunk, with name-calling often replacing reasoned, factual discussion of issues and policy. RAPIC is interested not in restricting freedom of speech (its record over the past four years establishes it in fact as one of Russia's champions of freedom of speech), but in promoting standard rules of this dialogue, which include a minimal standard of civility.

Peter Klebnikov

Co-Director, Russian-American Press and Information Center

Funds for Women

In response to the editorial, "Flowers Are Not Enough for Women," March 8.


I appreciated the editorial. While I agree with the thesis, there is one factual error which I feel must be corrected. The NIS-US Women's Consortium has served as an umbrella organization for 47 Russian women's organizations, over 20 Ukrainian women's organizations, and 20 U.S. women's organizations over the past two years. With a $95,000 grant from the Eurasia Foundation and a $750,000 grant from the U.S. Agency for International Development, the Women's Consortium, using a fair and open competitive process, distributed $125,000 in small grants to independent women's organizations throughout Russia and Ukraine. Grantees range from a free legal center for women in Kaluga to a rape crisis center in Nizhny Tagil. All of these groups received up to $3,000 in mini-grants. This small grant fund was the only fund in Russia targeted wholly on women's nongovernmental organizations and women's human rights.

Martina Vandenberg

NIS-U.S. Women's Consortium