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Enikolopov, Petrova and Zhuravskaya on Media Control in Russia

Abstract: Governments control media in much of the developing world. Does this have an effect on political choices of voters? We address this question using exogenous variation in the availability of the signal of the only independent from the government national TV channel in Russia during the 1999 parliamentary elections. We find that the presence of an independent source of political news on TV significantly decreased the vote in favor of the government party, increased the vote in favor of the opposition parties. We find that the difference in TV coverage significantly changed voting behavior even controlling for voters’ inclinations just one month prior to the elections. The effects we find are larger than those found in established democracies.

Ruben Enikolopov, Maria Petrova, and Ekaterina Zhuravskaya (2007), “Television and Political Persuasion in Young Democracies: Evidence from Russia,” unpublished paper. Available here.

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