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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

ItТs Time for EBRD to Make News

When the television industry evaluates itself later this month by handing out its highest annual awards, the TEFIs, there will be no award for best news programming. It seems that last year there was no news as such. It was all lies and propaganda.

The TEFI cancellation is another minor yet clever chess move in the KremlinТs endgame against NTV. Why worry, for example, that NTVТs parent company Media-MOST is being hounded into the grave by the Kremlin? After all, NTV never existed in the first place. There already is no news broadcasting in Russia Ч the entire TEFI category has had to be canceled.

Even as they voted to scrap the news TEFI, television academy members freely conceded that NTV committed far fewer propaganda sins against its viewers than any other station. But as ORTТs Konstantin Ernst so memorably put it, "All the big channels were engaged in political agitation last fall Е [and] the TEFI award is for Сbest information program,Т and not Сleast effective propaganda.Т"

So NTV is to be pilloried as dishonest Ч but also scorned for being ineffectively dishonest. (After all, ORT got its man elected. WhereТs the TEFI for "best proto-fascist manipulation of the popular will"?)

The KremlinТs greatest PR triumph since the election is the way Vladimir Putin has edited himself out of the discussion of NTVТs "business problems." Yes, NTV owes Gazprom money. But that was never a problem right up until the day GazpromТs CEO emerged from a Kremlin meeting to mutter something about not liking NTVТs news coverage. From then on, itТs been one "business dispute" after another Ч right up to the arrest of Vladimir Gusinsky and his amazingly cynical release from jail in return for signing away his company under the watchful eye of Press Minister Mikhail Lesin.

To argue that Gusinsky is having "business troubles" is roughly equivalent to asserting that a man being clubbed to death with a bat is a poor baseball player.

"Business" is simply the weapon of choice being used on NTV. It has no other relevance here.

Now Gazprom is shopping around for a "foreign investor." About a year ago in this space, we suggested the EBRD, which is charged with fostering democratic freedoms via its investments.

Instead, the EBRD is pondering sinking $300 million into Gazprom and LUKoil Ч where its investments arenТt needed, thanks to windfall world oil prices, and will have no broader influence.

The EBRD should wise up, buy into NTV, leave the existing journalists in charge Ч and aim for next yearТs TEFI.