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Dozhd TV Fomenting a Hipster Revolution

Published: February 6, 2014 (Issue # 1796)


I like the stylish manner of the Dozhd television channel. Their format is creative and original. The only problem is that Dozhd uses a "hipster" style that only works well in a specific social niche. If Dozhd had remained a hipster channel without any serious ambitions, the authorities would have let it get away with the controversial poll it conducted on whether the Soviet Union should have surrendered Leningrad to the Nazis in the early 1940s to save hundreds of thousands of lives. But the minute Dozhd positioned itself as a serious political voice, it got itself into trouble, getting more than it gambled for.

There are three theories behind the demise of Dozhd: business interests, political interests and social interests. I think all three factors played a role.

Related: Cable, Satellite Companies Pull Russian TV Station Over WWII Poll

The first theory holds that Dozhd came into conflict with cable television operators. Dozhd managers behaved aggressively, leveraging its relatively high-income audience to wrangle unusually favorable business terms from cable operators. They even charged a fee for their online content in parallel with selling to operators. Now those cable operators have seized an opportunity to put Dozhd in its place by claiming that the channel has offended too many cable viewers.

Those who believe Dozhd was punished for political reasons point to the pro-opposition bent in its coverage. But I think it was more than just a pro-­opposition bent. The channel virtually supported revolution. This can be seen by the way Dozhd gave sympathetic coverage to the Bolotnaya Ploshchad protests and glorified the Euromaidan demonstrators. With that, they went too far. Stridently anti-Russian and marked by revolutionary excesses, Euromaidan has alarmed the Russian authorities and frightened the general population, who remember the catastrophic results of the Russian revolutions of the 20th century: the October Revolution in 1917 and the fall of Communism in 1989.

Related: Prosecutors Find No Signs of Extremism at Dozhd TV

In Russia, any group calling for revolution oversteps the boundaries. Dozhd began to follow the logic of Vladimir Lenin, who argued that the media can only serve the interests of the party and that "a newspaper is not only a collective propagandist and a collective agitator, it is also a collective organizer" of the revolution.

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