Sunday, July 30, 2023

Russians Turning Away from Television and toward Telegram Channels for News, Creating Serious Problem for the Kremlin, Pertsev Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, July 25 – Surveys show that a smaller share of Russians is now relying on television for news and that a larger number of them are turning to Telegram channels, the portion of the Internet that provides news coverage, according to Russian media analyst Andrey Pertsev,

            Between January 2022 and May 2023, he says, the number of Russians relying on Telegram “more than doubled” from 25.5 million per day to 51.2 million – 42 percent of Russia’s Internet traffic, while the percentage of those who rely only on television fell dramatically and is no longer covered (

            According to Pertsev, the migration of Russians from television to Telegram represents “a serious problem for the Kremlin” which has relied on television to build and maintain its authority. And this shift is especially dangerous to the center because it is taking place during a major war and near the start of the next presidential campaign.

            In the past, the Kremlin could count on television to keep middle-aged and older Russians in its corner via television, but now “this audience is running to Telegram — it is no longer afraid of the Internet, where everything is complicated and ambiguous” and where alternative messages are being provided routinely.

            “The Kremlin is well aware of the danger of audience migration from television to Telegram,” and it has prosecuted some officers and officials who have used the latter and helped make them more popular. But “forceful persecution does nothing to solve the problem itself,” and those using Telegram, they will be more inclined to use Internet sites based abroad.

            These shifts and the changes in Russian attitudes toward the powers that be they portend represent one of the most serious challenges to the Putin regime so far; and the skill with which Prigozhin and others have used Telegram channels suggests that this media challenge will lead to other kinds of challenges as well.


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