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Russia Today (RT)

Deutsch: Newsroom der russischen Nachrichtenag...
  
RT, also known as Russia Today, is an international multilingual Russian-based television network. It is registered as an autonomous non-profit organization[2][3] funded by the federal budget of Russia through the Federal Agency on Press and Mass Communications of the Russian Federation.[4][5]
RT presents round-the-clock news bulletins, documentaries, talk shows, and debates, as well as sports news and cultural programs on Russia aimed at the overseas news market.[6] RT has had some notable guests including heads of state Vladimir Putin,[7] Nouri Al-Maliki,[8] Rafael Correa[9] and Bashar al-Assad.[10]
RT broadcasts through 30 satellite and 500 cable operators to 550 million people in over 100 countries. It has more than 2 million viewers in the United Kingdom[6] and has rivaled Al Jazeera as the most popular English-speaking foreign channel in Britain.[11] RT America states it is available to 85 million people in the United States.[12] It is the second most-watched foreign news channel in the U.S. after BBC News.[13] It is the number one foreign station in five U.S. urban areas.[14]
 
Foundation
 
Creation of Russia Today was a part of larger effort by the Kremlin intended to improve the image of Russia abroad.[15] RT was conceived by former media minister Mikhail Lesin,[16] and Vladimir Putin’s press spokesperson Aleksei Gromov[17] At the time of RT’s founding RIA Novosti director Svetlana Mironyuk stated: "Unfortunately, at the level of mass consciousness in the West, Russia is associated with three words: communism, snow and poverty," and added "We would like to present a more complete picture of life in our country."[16]
 
In 2005 RIA Novosti helped establish "ANO TV-Novosti", (Autonomous Non-profit Organization TV-News) - The parent organization of RT TV. ANO TV-Novosti General director (CEO) position was filled by Mr. Sergey Frolov[18] Frolov described: "A main problem in the beginning was that in our country we've never broadcasted English-language television. When it began Russia Today had a certain lack of personnel: it seems hard to find qualified journalists, political scientists, economists, analysts, with good English skills in Moscow."[19]
 
RT started broadcasting as "Russia Today" on 10 December 2005, initially with 300 journalists, including approximately 70 from outside Russia.[15] Russia Today’s editor-in-chief position was filled by Margarita Simonyan who recruited foreign journalists as presenters and consultants.[16] She said the channel’s intent was to have a "professional format" like the BBC, CNN and Euronews that would "reflect Russia's opinion of the world" and present a "more balanced picture" of Russia.[20]
Simonyan was a reportedly well-connected former Kremlin pool reporter, only 25 years old, who had been working in journalism since she was 18. She told the New York Times that after the fall of the Soviet Union many new young journalists were hired, thus the youth of most of the staffers.[21] Journalist Danny Schechter, who has been a guest on RT,[22] has stated that having been part of the start-up team for CNN, he saw RT as another “channel of young people who are inexperienced, but very enthusiastic about what they are doing."[23] Shortly after the channel was launched, James Painter wrote that Russia Today and similar stations like France 24 and TeleSUR saw themselves as “counter-hegemonic”, offering a differing vision and news content from that of Western media like CNN and the BBC[24]

  Growth

RT launched several new channels in ensuing years: the Arabic language channel Rusiya Al-Yaum in 2007, the Spanish language channel RT Actualidad in 2009, RT America which focuses on the United States in 2010, and the RT Documentary channel in 2011.[25]
In August 2007, RT had television's first ever live report from the North Pole, which lasted 5 minutes, 41 seconds. An RT crew participated in the Arktika 2007 Russian polar expedition, led by Artur Chilingarov on the Akademik Fyodorov icebreaker.[26][27] In December 2007 the Times Square New Year's Eve celebration broadcast RT's televised Moscow and Saint Petersburg celebrations.[27]
 
RT drew particular world attention for its coverage of the 2008 South Ossetia war.[27][28][29] RT portrayed the small country of Georgia as the aggressor[29] against the separatist governments of South Ossetia and Abkhazia which were protected by Russian troops.[30] RT was the only source of information in the West about the Russian position. RT saw this as the incident which showcased its news abilities to the world.[31] Margarita Simonyan stated "we were the only ones among the English-language media who were giving the other side of the story - the South Ossetian side of the story."[28]
In 2009 Russia Today rebranded itself to the more neutral "RT."[32] Margarita Simonyan denied it was an attempt to hide its Russian origins, saying the corporate logo was changed to attract more viewers and commenting "Who is interested in watching news from Russia all day long?”[25]
 
The early 2010 “Question More” advertising campaign created for RT in Britain by McCann Erickson was highly controversial.[33] One advertisement showed American President Barack Obama “morphing” into Iranian leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and asked: "Who poses the greatest nuclear threat?" The ad was banned in American airports. Another shows a Western soldier "merging" into a Taliban fighter and asks: "Is terror only inflicted by terrorists?"[34] One of RT’s 2010 billboard advertisements won the British Awards for National Newspaper Advertising “Ad of the Month.”[35]
Russia Today is one of several international channels which have challenged the United States media which previously dominated global news coverage.[36] In 2010 Walter Isaacson, Chairman of the U.S.
 
Government's Broadcasting Board of Governors (which runs Voice of America, Radio Free Europe, and Radio Free Asia), called for more money for the programs because "We can't allow ourselves to be out-communicated by our enemies," mentioning specifically Russia Today, Iran's Press TV and China's China Central Television (“CCTV”) in the next sentence. He later explained he actually was referring to “enemies” in Afghanistan, not the nations he mentioned.[37] In 2011 Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stated that the United States was “losing the information war” abroad to foreign channels like Russia Today, Al Jazeera, and China Central Television[38] and that they are supplanting the Voice of America.[39][40]
 
State-owned Ria Novosti news agency, which founded RT in 2005, is one of the largest in Russia. Its Chair is Svetlana Mironyuk who has modernized the agency since her appointment in 2003.[60] RIA Novosti has stated it helped establish RT but is "neither a sponsor nor a backer of Russia Today."[25] Mikhail Seslavinsky, in charge of the Federal Agency on Press and Mass Communications of the Russian Federation asserted in 2005 that "Russia Today will come as an independent company".[61]
In 2007 RT offices were established in the same building as RIA-Novosti after the Russian Union of Journalists was forced to vacate them.[62] In 2012 Anna Kachkayeva, Dean of Media Communications at Moscow's Higher School of Economics, stated that they “share the same roof” because they are located in the same building, but regarding "funding, editorial policy, management and staff, they are two independent organizations whose daily operations are not interconnected in any way."[63]
 
In 2008 Simonyan noted that more than 50 young RT journalists had gone on to take positions in large Western media outlets.[27] By 2010 RT had grown to a staff of 2000.[25]
In June 2011 RT responded to the criticisms it is "state-run" by noting the official mission statements and funding of other well-known "state-run" television networks like the British Broadcasting Corporation ("BBC"), France 24, Germany's Deutsche Welle and the United States's Corporation for Public Broadcasting.[64] Margarita Simonyan told a reporter that the Kremlin would not dictate content and "Censorship by government in this country is prohibited by the constitution." She explained her job was "to bring the western image of Russia closer to what Russia really is."[65]
 
In 2012 when foreign media were commenting on RT sponsoring the Julian Assange program, RIA Novosti asserted that "It is the co-founder of the Autonomous Non-Profit Organization (ANO) TV Novosti, launched in December 2005 as Russia Today (RT). Under Russian law, as an autonomous non-profit organization, RT is fully independent of its founders. Its top management body is the Supervisory Council (Board of Directors). RIA Novosti does not have any representatives on the RT Supervisory Council or any other RT management bodies, and hence does not influence the network’s editorial policy, or its financial and economic operation, directly or indirectly".[63]
RT cooperates with a number of media sources in Russia and abroad, including private media like Izvestia, Kommersant, Trud, Nezavisimaya Gazeta, Vedomosti, Argumenty i Fakty and the non-Russian Association for International Broadcasting, Huffington Post, News.com.au and WhatReallyHappened.com.[66]

 Budget

RT cost $30 million to establish in 2005[65] and $30 million for its first year of operation. About half of the network's budget came from the state and the other half from banks and companies friendly to the government.[24] Its budget in dollars was approximately $80 million in 2007, $120 million in 2008, $380 million in 2011 and $300 million in 2012.[67][68][69] Putin has prohibited funding for Russia Today from being reduced as of October 30, 2012.[70]

  Network

RT broadcast through 30 satellite and 500 cable operators to 550 million people in over 100 countries, 25 percent of all cable subscribers worldwide. In addition to its English-language broadcast, RT also runs Rusiya Al-Yaum, an Arabic language channel, and Actualidad RT, a Spanish-language channel, as well as a documentary channel, RTDoc. RT has 21 bureaus in 16 countries, including Washington, D.C., New York, London, Paris, Delhi, Cairo, Baghdad, Kiev. It employs over 2,000 media professionals worldwide.[6]
RT consists of its main RT International English-language channel, RT America, RT Arabic, Actualidad RT in Spanish, and RT Documentary.
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