Programs

Facebook posts – News and other programs are broadcast live on Russian TV, despite claims to the contrary

A producer working for Channel One, a Russian news channel, recently made headlines for organizing a protest against her country’s invasion of Ukraine during the station’s live evening newscast.

Marina Ovsyannikova came out behind a Vremya news anchor on March 14 shouting, “Stop the war. No to war,” according to the Guardian. She was holding a sign with words written in English and Russian. It was signed “Russians against the war”.

Ovsyannikova has been hailed a heroine by many for her outspoken opposition to the war less than two weeks after Russia enacted a new law that could punish anyone deemed to be spreading ‘false news’ by up to 15 years in prison. on the invasion.

Ovsyannikova has so far avoided a harsh sentence. She was interrogated for 14 hours, she said, and fined about $270, not for her on-air protest, but for a pre-recorded video she filmed in which she s apologized for helping spread Russian propaganda on the network, according to The New York Times.

But some on social media say Ovsyannikova’s protest was staged and was just another propaganda effort in the battle for public opinion on the war. It couldn’t be real, they say, because there are no live TV broadcasts in Russia. But that’s not true, experts told PolitiFact.

“There are no live TV shows in Russia. None. Ever,” read a Facebook post from March 15. Because there are no live shows, according to the post, Russia staged the protest to divert attention and get people talking about “good Russians”.

This post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat fake news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Learn more about our partnership with Facebook.)

Several experts we spoke to said that there are regular live news and other broadcasts on Russian television.

Farida Rustamova, a freelance journalist who writes about Russian issues on her subpage, said many shows, including news, sports, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s speeches and other events are broadcast in direct. Rustamova is a many Russian journalists who recently fled the country after the government crackdown on freedom of expression.

She said her sources who worked for state television told her the news was still being broadcast live, but in response to Ovsyannikova’s protest there could now be a delay of 30 seconds to a minute.

Julia Davis, a journalist and Russian media analyst who created the Russian Media Monitor website, also said that Russian TV shows are regularly broadcast live.

“On various shows on their main channels I saw some of the hosts tripping (one fell),” she wrote to PolitiFact in an email. “Sometimes there are swear words that they don’t have time to beep. All of the above would have been removed if the shows weren’t actually live.

Davis said during a live broadcast she watched that the producers forgot to turn off the cameras during a commercial break.

“I could see the hosts interacting with the guests,” Davis said. “Again, this would have been removed if the show was not live. In fact, subsequent uploads did not contain these mishaps.

Roman Badanin, a Russian journalist who recently wrote for CNN about his experience of leaving the country in 2021 due to the threat of arrest, also told PolitiFact that “most news programming,” including on Channel One, “are broadcast live” in the country. Badanin is now a student at Stanford University.

One of the reasons news is broadcast live in Russia is because the country has so many time zones due to its large size, Rustamova said.

“That’s why there’s no need to record the news in advance. The evening news in Vladivostok, the capital of the Far East, airs at 9 p.m., while it is 1 p.m. in Moscow. It is impossible to repeat this problem in 8 hours in Moscow, because the news will become outdated. Therefore, the news is broadcast live to the Far East, Siberia and Moscow.

She said Ovsyannikova’s protest was seen only by viewers in Moscow and central Russia.

Rustamova pointed us to an article on the DW news site that included an interview with Elena Afanasyeva, Channel One’s former planning director. Afanasyeva told DW that “all Channel One news is broadcast live,” according to an English translation.

Our decision

A Facebook post said a Russian journalist’s protest during a state TV show couldn’t be real because “there are no live TV shows in Russia. Any. Never.”

But experts we spoke with, including journalists who have worked in Russia, said that was not true. There are many live broadcasts, including the newscast which was interrupted by an employee’s protest. No evidence has been presented showing that his actions were staged as part of a Russian propaganda effort.

We rate this claim as false.