SPLIT SIGNALS: Television and Politics in the Soviet Union by Ellen Mickiewicz

SPLIT SIGNALS: Television and Politics in the Soviet Union

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An in-depth analysis of Soviet TV by Mickiewicz (Political Science/Emory), Director of the Soviet Media and International Communications Program at the Carter Center, and author of Media and the Russian Public. The Soviet Union has come a long way since Nixon debated Khrushchev about the superiority of American color TV. Then only five percent of the Soviet population had TVs, compared to 93 percent in 1986. The once-staid Soviet leaders, now given way to a new breed, are every bit as image-conscious as their capitalist counterparts: Gorbachev uses TV as a powerful tool to advance economic reforms, alter the educational system, and air his politics. Mickiewicz analyzes over 100 hours of both Soviet and American TV programming, demonstrating the overwhelming seriousness with which Soviet citizens attend to the news. Indeed, she discovers that, while Americans seem to be content with thinking of Russians in stereotypical terms, the Soviet people have an insatiable curiosity about America and its people. While we sit nightly guffawing at silly sitcoms, the average Soviet citizen is more apt to be watching programming that, while it might be somewhat propagandistic, has more in common with our typical public broadcasting stations. Similarly, Michiewicz's research reveals that though the majority of our news coverage is concerned with the Western world, Soviet news programming looks less at itself, also focusing on the West. What the author finds most interesting is the spate of new programs in which Soviet citizens, even high-school students, confront Soviet officials; in which Soviet bureaucrats and managers are ""tried"" on television; and in which American critics of Soviet policies are allowed to go to it in rough-and-tumble debates with Soviet TV personalities. Likely to raise eyebrows in the West, especially among those who continue to think of life behind the Iron Curtain as a sort of backwater--but Mickiewicz demonstrates conclusively that there may be, indeed, more to glasnost than many believe.

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 1988
ISBN: 0195063198
Publisher: Oxford Univ. Press