Saturday, January 5, 2019

Russians are Turning Away from Putin’s TV Channels Even on New Year’s Eve

Paul Goble

            Staunton, January 5 – It has long been a tradition in Russia that people watch central television on New Year’s Eve, but this year Russians turned away from Russia-1 and the First Channel in significant numbers, choosing to watch other channels or even no television at all. Given the centrality of TV in the Putin system, this is a significant political development.

            Just over about six million Russians watched First Channel on New Year’s Eve, more than 500,000 fewer than a year earlier, and about the same number watched Russia-1, more than 220,000 fewer than in 2017 ( and

                This decline happened even though both channels went out of their way to feature pop culture favorites. But Russians did not give up watching television altogether: they simply turned to other channels. STS, which featured a Urals variety show saw its audience jump from 814,000 viewers a year ago to 2.2 million this year. 

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