DP7257 | Media and Political Persuasion: Evidence from Russia

Publication Date

12/04/2009

JEL Code(s)

Keyword(s)

Programme Area(s)

Abstract

How do media affect voting behavior? What difference can an independent media outlet make in a country with state-controlled media? Our paper addresses these questions by comparing electoral outcomes and votes reported by survey respondents during the 1999 parliamentary elections in Russia for those geographical areas that had access and those that had no access to the only national TV channel independent from the government ("NTV"). The effect is identified from exogenous variation in the availability of the signal, which appears to be mostly idiosyncratic, conditional on controls. The findings are as follows. 1) The presence of the independent TV channel decreased the aggregate vote for the government party by 2.5 percentage points and increased the combined vote for major opposition parties by 2.1 percentage points. 2) The probability of voting for opposition parties increased for individuals who watched NTV even controlling for voting intentions measured one month prior to the elections. 3) NTV had a smaller effect on votes of people with higher political knowledge and those using alternative sources of political news and a larger effect on retired persons who watch TV substantially more than working individuals.