The revolution will indeed be televised

by Colin McGuire. 0 Comments

A Chechen man winds up with a bloody nose. The bloody nose was made possible by the Chechen special police. The man takes to a television news camera to air his grievances as his nose continues to bleed. The people living in eastern Russia were able to see the report on the nightly news. The people who live in the western part of the country?

The interview was replaced with roughly 10 minutes of television dedicated to advertisements.

Censorship. Yes, we still live in a world where a country’s leader can have the amount of control that allows him to pick and choose what his country’s citizens might see and might not see on TV. That’s odd, isn’t it? I thought we as a world left all that “complete-control-stuff” in the dust decades ago, when the rise of a particular power-hungry, mustache-wearing weirdo was derailed by pretty much everyone else in the universe. Then again, I also thought “Marley & Me” might turn out to be a good movie.

Yes. Now is the time when I point out that my assumptions have been known to be a bit wrong.

Oh, but censorship is a lot harder these days. And Mr. Vladimir Putin, who ordered all Russian television under Kremlin control when he came to power, would be someone who could tell you all about it. From The Associated Press 

“Increasingly, however, the uncut programs are quickly posted on the Internet, where they are discussed and spread through Russia’s thriving blogosphere by a growing number of Russians unhappy with Putin’s rule,” The AP wrote recently. “As many as 80 percent of Russians still rely on television as their main news source, which explains the Kremlin’s reluctance to ease its hold. But Internet use is growing dramatically and the free exchange of critical information is beginning to chip away at the Kremlin’s ability to influence public opinion.”

Ah-ha! Enter the cliched “The revolution will be televised” line here.

As the Associated Press article explains, Russia has the highest number of people who use the Internet among 18 countries in Europe. A little more than 50 million unique visitors to the Internet were reported in Russia by comScore during September. Even more interesting is the notion that by the next day, the video that officials wouldn’t let certain television markets air was viewed by more than 300,000 people across the country online.

Censorship. Smenshorship.

And then the irony. Oh, the irony …

“I presume, in the end, more people actually watched it than would have had it run properly,” Tatyana Lokshina, a researcher for Human Rights Watch who has worked extensively in Russia’s restive North Caucasus region, which includes Chechnya, told The AP in the article. She went on to explain that the audience that flocked to the video only did so because of the ban. In hindsight, she said, the piece would have probably gone relatively unnoticed if no one had raised a stink in the first place.

But such was not the case. And especially during the current election season (one which, by the way, has been marred by controversy in and of itself anyways, in case you hadn’t noticed), such reports and videos become more and more important. Or, well, in Putin’s case at least, detrimental to his chances of legally and fairly winning a reelection bid.

It all adds up to one big “the world really has changed, hasn’t it?” With the use of Internet television, stuff such as this dude’s bloody nose can turn into a worldwide story that shines an unflattering light on anyone across the universe. Forget TMZ and paparazzi.

This kind of story is the real benefit of a high-speed Internet connection.

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