Paskhalis, Tom, Bryn Rosenfeld and Katerina Tertytchnaya. 2022. "Independent Media under Pressure: Evidence from Russia." Post-Soviet Affairs 38(3): 155-174. [Abstract] [Download Paper]
Existing literature recognizes growing threats to press freedom around the world and documents changes in the tools used to stifle the independent press. However, few studies investigate how independent media respond to state pressure in an autocracy, documenting the impact of tactics that stop short of shuttering alternatives to state media. Do independent outlets re-orient coverage to favor regime interests? Or does repression encourage more negative coverage of the regime instead? To shed light on these questions, we investigate how the abrupt removal of independent outlet TV Rain from Russian television providers influenced its coverage. We find that shortly after providers dropped TV Rain, the tone of its political coverage became more positive and its similarity with state-controlled Channel 1 increased. However, these effects were short-lived. Additional evidence suggests that subscription revenue contributed to the station’s resilience. These findings add to our understanding of media manipulation and authoritarian endurance.