This spring, the front page of the Yandex search engine surpassed Channel One in number of viewers, according to TNS statistics.
Many saw this as a tipping point in the trend away from television’s dominance over the flow of information to the public. In April, 19.1 million people opened the front page of Yandex, while only 18.2 million tuned in to Channel One, Russia’s most popular television channel, which is controlled by the state and widely seen as a mouthpiece of government propaganda.
The internet has been steadily gaining in influence, and broadband is stretching to more households, yet its relatively modest reach is widely believed, by those opposing Vladimir Putin, to be the reason for the president’s continued high ratings. Channel One and other widely distributed television channels are tightly controlled and their news programs allocate most of their airtime to bland reportage of what Putin and Prime Minister Medvedev are doing, never airing criticism and avoiding live broadcasts.
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