Television and Political Persuasion in Young Democracies: Evidence from Russia (PDF; 316 KB)
Source: Centre for Economic and Financial Research, New Economics School

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 and 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.