Not too long ago, someone left an angry comment on this blog, complaining that s/he came for stories about wine and other “pleasant” subjects, and didn’t want to hear any more pro-Russian stories.
All that’s fine and good, and I urge anyone who doesn’t like this site (or any other website on the internet) to lift their finger one millimeter and click away to something else. It’s a free world and not everything is for everyone.
Personally I find it weird to be defending Russia in any shape, form or fashion. As I’ve already written about before, I was raised to fear Russia murdering my friends and family. I have no familial or cultural ties to Russia and I’ve only just begun to learn the language. And while I now live in the former Soviet Union, it’s not exactly paradise here. So I have no inherent love for Russia or Russian things.
But the truth is the truth, no matter whom it favors.
Today I had the misfortune to read yet another piece of anti-Russian propaganda that is a complete and utter lie:
The BBC World Service is being financially outgunned by Russian and Chinese state-owned news channels, its former director Peter Horrocks has warned, amid high-level concerns that Britain and the US are losing a global “information war” with the Kremlin.
The issue here is that the BBC’s World Service, which is radio only (not television) is “losing” a war with Russia TV (a television channel) because the BBC is being “outgunned” financially.
I’ve watched RT for years and the channel features programs by people such as Max Keiser, an American citizen who has been writing on his website for more than a decade, long before he ever signed a contract with the Russian television channel. His views are his and his alone, and I haven’t seen him change or become influenced simply because he now draws a paycheck from a Russian TV channel rather than advertising on his blog from multinational corporations.
Also, I love the high-handed arrogance used throughout the article, the tone assuming that any news source funded by the Russian government is automatically propaganda while a news source funded by the British government is the paragon of even-handedness and objective journalistic reporting.
Unfortunately, the BBC is far from being a pure, objective source of news. The BBC’s director had to resign just two years ago after the news division falsely claimed that a high-ranking politician was a child molester. And if you live in Britain, you’re certainly familiar with the many other scandals the BBC has been involved in, including protecting a child molester of their own.
But even if we assume that the BBC’s World Service is generally a better, more objective source of news than RT, is the World Service really being “outgunned” financially?
From the same article above, cobbled together from several different paragraphs:
FCO funding for the World Service stopped in April, with the £245m annual budget now coming out of the licence fee.
[BBC former director Horrocks] added: “We are being financially outgunned by Russia”.
[Russian President Vladimir] Putin will next year increase [RT’s] global budget by 40% to 15.38bn rubles (£220m), up from 11.87bn rubles this year.
John Whittingdale, chair of the Commons culture, media and sport select committee, said: ” We are being outgunned massively by the Russians and Chinese and that’s something I’ve raised with the BBC. It is frightening.”
So next year RT’s budget will be 220 million pounds while this year the BBC’s World Service’s budget is already 245 million pounds and yet this translates to Russia “financially outgunning” the World Service.
Mind you, RT broadcasts video (television), which costs a hell of a lot more to produce, while the World Service is radio only, and the World Service is already better funded than RT, and yet Horrocks (and by extension, The Guardian) is panicking that the BBC is losing the “information war”.
Not only that, but according to Wikipedia, the BBC’s total budget is almost 4 billion pounds. Of course that includes both television and radio, and not just news services but also entertainment and other programming, but a lot of that gets disseminated around the world on the internet and via the airwaves.
I am quite sure that every single person reading these words has, at one time or another, seen a BBC program(me) and yet I doubt if even 10% of my readers have ever seen/heard a Russian show (even one not sponsored by the Russian government!) so clearly the BBC’s global outreach is far greater.
Therefore, let’s review:
- The Russians are “financially outgunning” the BBC’s World Service even though the World Service’s budget is higher than RT’s
- A radio program has a higher budget than a television channel
- Journalism is an “information war” if it involves government-funded news services
- The BBC is always fair and objective, and RT is a propaganda unit that is just a mouthpiece for the Kremlin and Vladimir Putin
- If the BBC World Service broadcasts in Russian, that’s serious journalism. If RT broadcasts in English, it’s all lies and misinformation
- The Russians are coming to murder us in our beds as we sleep unless we ACT NOW!
It’s only when you get to the very bottom of the article that you learn what’s really going on – the World Service’s budget is under threat due to changes in the way the BBC is being financed, and by publishing “scary” stories about Russian and Chinese competition, the World Service hopes to get more money:
Senior BBC executives say privately that the World Service gives the corporation a strong card to play in the upcoming royal charter renewal talks.
Ahh, that makes sense. Let’s go ahead and rename this article “World Service Hopes to Increase Its Budget by Using Xenophobic Tactics to Frighten the British Government and General Public” and then we’re much closer to the real truth. There is plenty to criticize Russia about. but Moscow spending a tiny amount of money for a news service shouldn’t be at the top of that list.
Personally, I don’t exactly know why any government is in the journalism business at all. Even poor widdle Romania has a print news service, multiple television channels (called TVR) broadcast all over the world, and an international radio network. I wonder just how many Romanians know that their tax money funds a radio station here in Chisinau (that broadcasts over the air, not just via the internet) in order to disseminate Victor Ponta’s view of the world to their benighted Moldovan cousins.
And, as always, let’s not forget the Reigning King of All Propaganda, the great and glorious United States, with its Voice of America radio network (currently touting the popularity of American-style Santa Clauses in Communist Vietnam – wtf!) that is well-known as a CIA front. The American government is also a “stealth” (it’s not a secret, but few people know it) owner of several newspapers, including the Southeast Times (which covers both Romania and the Republic of Moldova), and provides financing for countless numbers of “independent” media outlets, including Moldova’s Publika television channel (which broadcasts in both Romanian and Russian languages).
And let’s not forget the greatest “information war” asset America has in the part of the world where I live, which is a corporation (now) called Central European Media Enterprises (CME), which runs ProTV (broadcast in both Romania and RM), MTV Romania, Acasa, as well as Pro FM (radio) and dozens of other channels throughout every country in eastern Europe.
And even when Romanian-language news is entirely funded and directed domestically, without any outside “interference”, it is almost entirely composed of worthless, gossipy shit, the vast stinking majority of it entirely devoid of any substantive reporting, content or contemplative thought.
Whatever minor efforts the BBC’s World Service and Russian government-financed channels may be undergoing, or have planned for the future, all of it together is just a drop in the bucket compared to the tsunami of opinion, news and propaganda being broadcast around the world every second of the day in dozens of languages that is financed and directed (at least in part) by the American government.
But none of that matters. Americans love you and me and all good people of the world. So no matter what you ever learn about them, just be grateful that they’re not evil Russians with their weird obsessions about fascism and Orthodox icons and drinking endless cups of tea.