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Moscow Goes Hollywood: The Russian Television Industry in the Global Age Open Access


Other title
Media Studies
Vladimir Putin
Authoritarian Capitalism
Russian Television
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Brassard, Jeffrey R
Supervisor and department
BayatRizi, Zohreh (Sociology)
Examining committee member and department
Marples, David (History and Classics)
Anselmi, William (MLCS)
Siemens, Elena (MLCS)
Heller, Dana (Old Dominion University)
Department of Sociology

Date accepted
Graduation date
2017-11:Fall 2017
Doctor of Philosophy
Degree level
This study examines ways that both authoritarian capitalism and global flows of culture have shaped the Russian television industry. This dissertation explores three main questions: How does the system of state-directed capitalism shape television production, particularly with regards to balancing propaganda and profit? What kinds of representations are possible on television in Russia under authoritarian capitalism? What is the relationship of the Russian television industry with other parts of the global media industry? To explore these questions, this dissertation examines the structure of the Russian television industry with particular attention given to the most important channels and production companies. In all cases, the relationship of these companies to both the Putin-led state and their level of integration with the global television marketplace is examined in-depth. Using a mix of semi-structured interviews with industry workers, analysis of industry trade journals, popular press and textual analysis, this dissertation examines four of the main television stations in the country all of whom have different relationships to the state. I argue that typical accounts of Russian media as merely serving the interests of the state are overly simplistic. The expectation that television channels or production companies linked to the ruling elite create programming that supports the Putin government’s nation-building efforts while commercial stations use their platforms to criticize the status-quo is shown to be erroneous. State-owned and state-affiliated stations whose leadership has strong ties to Putin’s inner circle often produce programming that represents key Russian institutions negatively while commercial networks generally produce apolitical programing unlikely to attract the attention of the state. Along with the internal dynamics of the Russian industry, this dissertation examines the role that global media have played in the development of the Russian television industry in the post-Soviet era. The role of major western media companies in post-Soviet Russia is explored through a case study of Sony Television’s expansion into Russia in the 2000s. This dissertation argues that contrary to theories of cultural imperialism prominent in the fields of political economy and cultural studies, the global television industry’s strongest influence has not been in spreading Western values to Russia, but instead transferring industrial and production practices. Therefore, this project significantly complicates notions of how television industries function in an authoritarian capitalist state, with important implications for those examining media in other states with similar systems.
This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for the purpose of private, scholarly or scientific research. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.
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