Tuesday, 15 October 2013


Method of research explained at foot of article.

Russia Today TV is beating the BBC and other news channels at their own game of TV news and comment, according to our research study involving the monitoring of several news channels over more than two years.

The research was not about numbers of viewers but about quality, variety and veracity of information and their profile in the overall day news. It is at this level where Russia Today scores highly. 

In term of numbers, Russia Today viewers have risen exponentially but BBC still has the numbers in its favour in Britain.

While the original BBC's 'News 24' was killed off as the endless repetition of manufactured news was losing credibility, the new format 'BBC News Channel' isn't fairing much better either.

But the Russia Today news format is gaining so many news watchers in the UK that it is already influencing selection of news items on BBC and other channels.

At the same time, Russia Today appears to be filling the international space that Al Jazeera left empty after their initial success on the Iraq war coverage and the first couple of Arab Spring cases. 

It may well be that Al Jazeera is based in a country not powerful enough to sustain the onslaught of threats and intimidation from American diplomacy - which knocked the Arab channel off the 'independent' pedestal. Qatar is today the local Middle East gun runner top dog, together with Saudi Arabia and US.

Russia Today, on the other hand, is supported by a former superpower which gives it an edge over other world channels to confront US domination of the news, which creates subservient TV. Even the BBC falls into this category, when it comes to international news.  Most of its pundits are based in Washington DC and the wars of Afghanistan and Iraq didn't help them to fend off government interference.

The slow demise of the BBC as an objective news channel is coinciding with the surge of Russia Today.


Russia Today seems to allow greater editorial freedom to their studio presenters and correspondents per news item or story.

This has helped Russia Today to appear as a more open channel, less restrictive in opinion than the BBC.

BBC correspondents seem slow in picking up real news trends, sometimes barely scratching the conclusions of a story, while Russia TV 'star' journalists appear more independent, faster to the news and more committed.


One would have to be stupid not to notice that most of Russia Today's TV presenters are pretty and young.

This could bring accusations of sexism and ageism. But the apparent weakness is counterbalanced by the courage of their opinions.  The females (it's a very feminist channel) seem to have their own opinion about what is going on and how news can strike a chord with viewers. 

In the US, UK and most of the EU, mainstream TV viewers can't get full information on what is even happening in their own countries, let alone to their own countries  There seems to be an interest to support the status quo, even if that status quo appears to be in need of urgent discussion.

Russia Today TV makes global news worth watching again. It's a different voice.


Let's face it.  Russia TV presenters and correspondents don't mince words when criticising the US and EU domestic and foreign policy mistakes and fallacies in all fields of human endeavour.

But who can blame Russia Today for doing that?  After the demise of the Soviet Union, Russia has kept its distance from intervening in world affairs so it had a lot of time to watch what was going on. And what is going on is not a pretty sight. It found that EU and US have turned the world into their own playground with wars, bombing and financial collapses.

As examples of innovative programming there's Peter Lavelle's CrossTalk. He finds expert opinion from different parts of the world, with new ideas and points of view, just like Max Keiser and Stacy Herbert also do for Keiser Report, another ground-breaking programme. 

Quite surprising it is that the BBC and other UK and US channels can never find those types of guests, especially as they speak perfectly good English.

Other programmes such as Breaking The Set and World's Apart as well as Keiser Report create the dynamism in news and comment that is setting Russia Today apart from mainstream TV media.


The difference may reside on the fact that Russia Today not only gives the news but also gives an alternative explanation to the causes and consequences of war and peace.

The following issues have been constant in Russia Today TV roster of news in the last few years.

- NATO Afghan War.
- US and UK Iraq War, illegal under international law
- Iraq and Afghanistan war crimes.
- Depleted Uranium use in Fallujah
- Renditions and torture
- Guantanamo
- US drone bombing of Pakistan and Yemen.
- Bahrain anti-govt demonstrations.
- Libya War, illegal under international law.
- Iran War preparations and rhetoric
- Syria revolution.
- Syria War preparations and rhetoric.
- Egypt's coup d'Etat.
- Mass worldwide surveillance by UK and US.

All the above events have given Russia Today the edge over EU and US channels simply because Russia was not and is not involved in any of them.

EU and US channels have been compromised by their need to support their government's own war efforts, such as NATO countries in Afghanistan; US and UK in Iraq; and UK, US and France in Libya.

BBC Newsnight's Emily Maitlis in 2013
Twelve years of self-censorship have had a negative effect in audiences of the countries involved, as nobody these days is stupid enough either not to notice a shortage of proper criticism of foreign policy in news channels such as BBC, RAI, CBS, ABC, CNN, ITV, SKY TV and the French Antenne channels.

CBS reporting from Libya during 2011 coalition bombing

A recent coup for Russia Today happened when none other than 'the devil incarnate' Vladimir Putin appeared to be more in tune with UK and US electorate, as David Cameron and Barack Obama were preparing to rubber stamp the bombing of Syria, which was finally cancelled to their unending embarrassment.


As if the above news items had not provided enough material for a different approach in Russia Today's news programmes, the US and UK banking collapse, followed by the Occupy movements of those countries, with added student and workers' protests in Greece, Italy, France, Spain and Portugal provided extra unadulterated material for Russia Today editors.

It was clear for everybody that something very rotten was going on in the West's financial system and that traditional news programmes were not reporting it critically enough.

It took at least a month for the BBC, CBS, SKY and ABC to pick up on the huge Occupy movement in America and Great Britain. 

If it didn't get the correct coverage while it was going on, less so now, when it is less apparent as the original camps were violently overrun by local police, providing even more up-to-date coverage for Russia TV viewers and silence from mainstream TV channels.


The defection of Edward Snowden and his heavy information luggage (1) proved a god-send for reluctant Russia to be seen as the champion of freedom of speech and freedom itself. 

Had Snowden stayed in the US or travelled to a 'friendly' country such as UK he would've been thrown into prison, just like Chelsea Manning (formerly known as Bradley Manning) and Julian Assange.

While Assange lingers on under house arrest in a foreign embassy in London and Manning is serving 35 years in a US prison, Snowden is a free man in Moscow and can walk at least to Siberia if he wants to without the fear of a US Navy Seals rendition team nabbing him.

Another soul who told the truth and is lingering in a US prison is John Kirakou: he blew the whistle on the CIA's torture program.

The cases of Snowden, Manning, Kiriakou and Assange were widely covered by Russia Today. But not just covered like the BBC does with a few seconds. They were made into headline news for several weeks.


The voices and views behind most documentaries shown by Russia Today are not Russian but American.

The documentaries are produced in the US but don't get distributed there nor in any UK channel.

While BBC takes many months and millions of pounds to set up documentaries that toe the official BBC editorial line (not too critical of anything and always underlining that our societies are much better than others), Russia TV has been mining the documentaries of the US and world independent sector. The kind of committed, hard-hitting, really riveting documentaries that don't find a conduit in the traditional mainstream democratic TV media. 

Subjects covered are poverty, war, banking fraud, unemployment, surveillance and pollution. All the subject that are no-no's in most Western TV channels.

Have you seen any anti-Monsanto documentary on American of British TV? We don't think so, since the US Congress even approved a law to make Monsanto the company and its executives free from any future prosecution if their crops turn out to be toxic in 50 years time. Russia Today has aired a number of amazing documentaries about GMO crops. Unheard of on the BBC.

Russia TV has also covered exclusively the two global anti-Monsanto marches in more than 400 cities. This event only carried a small piece in the news of the BBC and ITV and only about a demonstration in Parliament Square in their London section.

Anti-Monsanto march. London, May 2013.
Documentary highlights includes 'Genetic Chile' (GMOs), 'The Big Fix' (BP's oil disasters), 'The Fear Has A Thousand Eyes' (urban surveillance), 'Golden Rice' (food corruption), 'Toxic Leather' (industry) and Russian documentaries such as 'Black October 1993' (Moscow putsch), My Son Ex Terrorist' (terror recruitment) and hundreds more.

GMO documentary 'Genetic Chile'.


The editorial of Russia Today is not apparent but soon they will have to reconcile some adverse news such as domestic gay issues, and the Pussy Riot and Greenpeace activists imprisonment. 

But as long as Russia remains distant from world interventions in the scale of Iraq or Libya, it will be easy for Russia Today editors to appear independent. 

This is countered by the fact that the influential post of Chairman of the BBC was recently given to former Conservative Party member Chris Patten. He was chosen by UK prime minister David Cameron himself. 

Patten then proceeded to choose not one but two Director Generals of the BBC. First the hapless George Entwistle, then Tony Hall a couple of months later, after dramatic events that left the reputation of independence of the BBC tarnished.

The recent 'Savile-Entwistle' saga was only a symptom of how news have become stale in the BBC, subject to endless editorial reviews to avoid pitfalls that may jeopardise careers.

For years now BBC editors have preferred to specialise in domestic coverage like Olympics and royal events and in distant foreign revolutions rather than on views that may criticise government policy.

BBC Breaking News of the day


Names given in their Twitter accounts.

@MaxKeiser and @StacyHerbert

The Wild One, Stacy Herbert. A financial journo in a Brando Perfecto jacket already gains bags of credibility.

Fronting their famous programme introduced as "Markets! Finance! Scandal!" Keiser Report have educated Britons and other countries about what really goes on behind the scenes in the City of London and Wall Street, under the protection of our own governments.  A must see to find out about #banksters and how they operate. The hot topics covered by Keiser Report are never even acknowledged by BBC or other mainstream TV channels. They are simply ignored. This has increased the number of viewers of Russia Today and Keiser Report among UK viewers and transformed its presenters into cult figures.

November 5, 2013 during #Anonymous #MillionMaskMarch
 as illustration of cult following.


Fronts a programme called 'Breaking The Set'.  She looks absolutely amazing in her stiletto shoes and tight tops. 

But hold on. She has no qualms in sinking her needle stilettos into the heart of the matter, which usually is US dirty wars, Monsanto, drones, legal banking fraud and US government chicanery. 

Nothing remotely similar happens in any channel of the EU and US. Journos there are on a tight leash. If Abby had her way with TV executives in those countries, they would all be sporting stiletto wounds in their buttocks.

Abby Martin's high heels.
BBC stilettos appear not to have the same penetrating power as Russia Today Abby Martin's.

Anonymous BBC stiletto.


Gayane Chichakyan pops up mostly in Washington DC but also sometimes in Moscow.  Great reporting. Committed, argumentative, opinionated. US and UK foreign and domestic policies makes it easy for her and Gayane takes the opportunity with gusto.


OK. Agreed. Yulia Shapovalova is devastatingly attractive. But so are BBC's news presenter Fiona Bruce and ITV's Nina Hussein. Some kind of physical attraction seems the norm in world TV these days. 

The difference is in what they are allowed to say, how free they feel to speak their heart.  But if you have conservatives and defenders of the status quo on TV, they will always say the things that protect it, making it dull.

ITV Nina Hussein
Above, pretty but not-as-opinionated-as-she-could-be, ITV news presenter Nina Hussein.  

British TV journalists must feel free to answer the public's need without fear or favour. They were all surprised by the public revulsion against Syria bombing, as in 2008 they were caught by the banking collapse. This year also many TV journos called the Egypt bloody coup a 'revolution' at the beginning. Despite getting it wrong many times, British TV insists in being an uncritical media.

The difference is that @Yulisha covers the news with poise and passion. She appears freer than her counter parts in British TV. You get the message clearly when UK or US have done something wrong.  

On the other hand Fiona Bruce and Huw Edwards are excellent when reporting royal news such as jubilees, weddings and births. Unbeatable at that. Real poise, we have to admit.


@sarafirth_RT, @Polly_Boiko and @LauraSmith_RT

We cannot end this investigation about the news channel Russia Today without mentioning three of their London stalwarts, Sara Firth, Polly Boiko and Laura Smith.

Russia Today Laura Smith at Ecuador Embassy reporting on Assange siege. London, August 2012.

Perhaps because Arbolioto is based in London we have come to check what they say regularly. 

All three are first with their microphones where the news that matter happen but the mainstream TV fears to tread, such as the Occupy Movement, Monsanto marches, unemployment, NHS marches and protests, CND and Stop The War coalition marches, Julian Assange interviews, Banksters fraudulent operations, Frack_Off camps and many, many more. 

Such is their indefatigable interest that if you want to know about an NHS protest, check Russia Today news first.

Marina Portnaya


For reason's of space, we are only naming here a few of the star journalists of Russia Today.  Other names to watch are 


@AnissaNowRT Anissa Nouani presented crtiical view on 'American Exceptionalism'.


The impact of Russia Today on modern TV journalism covering world events without editorial limits has been noticed by many. However, they claim it's a 'Kremlin Propaganda Machine'.

The point is that as long as they report the facts that we can't get from our own TV channels, they will continue to rise.

It is a fact that Russia Today's vast array of correspondents around the world has created a new interest in TV journalism without frontiers or banners. For the time being at least.

Don't think that it's just the presenters. Alyona Minkovski was poached from hard hitting The Alyona Show on Russia Today to present a gossip show on Huffingdon Post. Money is not everything in journalism.



PHOTOS. All photos by Arbolioto Blog.

NOTES: (1) Edward Snowden has confirmed in an interview with the New York Times on Oct 17 2013 that he was in possession of no documents when he went to Russia and that there is "zero chance" that Chinese or Russians obtained them by subterfuge. It is believed that several newspapers have the documents hidden in computers around the world. Obviously Snowden does not need to carry heavy luggage to be a US dissident of the highest order. 

LINKS. There is only one link to this research for the reason that we wanted the research to be read as a unit in one go. However, some links may be added later to reference the material. In any case, all the relevant references can be seen in the @arbolioto Twitter. Some on this blog.


A novel method of research was used for this project. The researcher used Arbolioto Twitter feed in real time over many months to record the different comments given by pundits, presenters and journalists from all forms of media about different global and domestic events in several countries, principally UK and US.

As Facebook and Twitter started to become prominent in news and comment, social media was added to the method to record the research. This started during the Egypt protests against Hosni Mubarak, which ended with his resignation in 2011.

The very early seeds of this research started shortly after the Iraq War of 2003 -albeit without a given purpose and with a different format. At that time, there were many different opinions about the need for that war, which meant research had to be taken to understand all the positions. 

Unfortunately one sole news channel can never be trusted, particularly not the ones coming from nations involved in a war.

During the subsequent years the researcher analysed mainstream media response to single world events depending on the origin and type of media, being Internet, TV or press.  All comments were recorded on the twitter account @arbolioto. As well as other information related to what was going on at the time around the world. British press and some world press research and coverage of events were also included as reference.

Shortly after the Egypt revolt in Tahrir Square in 2011, Russia Today TV was added to the research principally on the back of the Keiser Report as there appeared to be a huge discrepancy between what mainstream media was reporting about the banking debacle of Wall Street and the City of London, to what Max Keiser and Stacy Herbert were saying on their programme.

The method of research continued to use @arbolioto Twitter in real time to record the main quotes from the many different programmes on TV and press reports. On TV specifically this was done through a hard drive recorder connected to the TV. With this device, several simultaneous news and comment programmes about an event were recorded simultaneously and watched 'a posteriori' only a few minutes later to compare. 

News and comment programmes on Sky News, ITV News, BBC News, ABC News, BBC Newsnight and Russia Today News were recorded and analysed. Quotes were posted on Twitter.

Over time, a pattern was discovered, that as a matter of course, TV in the United Kingdom  and the United States were consistently mis-reporting, un-reporting or under-reporting certain events considered 'difficult' such as protests against the banking system, the protests against against austerity, the several wars and bombing campaigns, the torture, quantitative easing, bombing of Libya, and others. This was then compared to 'easy' programmes like a royal wedding, Barack Obama dinner at Buckingham Palace, for example, which was covered extensively by US and UK television.

The events following the setting up of the Occupy camps in 2011 (@OccupyWallSt and @OccupyLSX), the bombing of Libya and the London summer riots of August 2011 were used as benchmarks for study, as they were very controversial and many media outlets found them difficult to report. News and comment from various sources were recorded and analysed, including ABC, BBC, SKY and Russia Today news. During some events, tweets from reliable eye witnesses on the scene were compared with media dispatches.

Many other news stories were analysed individually using the same method of hard drive recording. In particular, the royal wedding, the jubilee, the Olympics, the Egypt coup d'etat, the cases of Bradley Manning, John Kiriakou, Julian Assange and TV coverage of the Guardian articles on Edward Snowden and US dirty war in Baghdad were studied as well as BBC comments on the US-UK 'Special Relationship' and the recent Russia Today programme on 'American Exceptionalism' were also investigated. 

Output of WikiLeaks, Salon, Democracy Now, YourAnonNews, Occupy Wall St, Occupy LA and Occupy London were also researched and compared to mainstream media coverage of events and issues.

For many months output from BBC current affairs TV programmes such as Daily Politics, BBCNewsnight,  BBC Question Time, BBC daytime and night time news were monitored, recorded and analysed. Same thing with BBC correspondents such as financial correspondent Stephanie Flanders and Robert Peston, but also royal correspondents, political correspondents, etc were compared to their countersparts in Russia Today, ITV, ABC, Channel Four and others. Real time quotes and analysis can be found on the Twitter timeline.

A photographer covered the 'word on the street' in many UK legal and peaceful demonstrations and protests, including March Against Monsanto, Occupy London Stock Exchange, Occupy Los Angeles, NHS Block The Bridge, Frack_Off, CND and Stop The War Coalition, UKuncut Bedroom Tax,  to name but a few. These can be seen on this Arbolioto Blog.  A photographer also photographed the TV screen on many occasions and press reports. The ones included here are only some of them.

In short, a massive research programme which could only be done step by step without a clear indication of the final result. The findings of this research on Russia Today, the BBC and other news outlets is only the first instalment of the study as more findings and associations can be gleaned from the work.

A variety of documentaries were also recorded and studied, some shown on BBC and Channel Four and compared to ones of the same or similar events, showed by Russia Today. Comments on these documentaries and programmes were also tweeted on @arbolioto Twitter.

Quotes, photos, analysis and comments from all these programmes and events can be read in the @arbolioto Twitter real timeline of the last three years. But it will take you a long time to go through it all as it includes nearly 60,000 tweets.  In our case, Twitter allows the owner of the address to download the entire Twitter timeline feed into one file, so it is easier to go through it and study in a computer with any simple find engine.

 In all, it has been a fascinating experience. There's more to come in the next few months.


This research is not about numbers of viewers but about quality, variety and veracity of information and their profile in the day's news on a number of key international and domestic issues that affect and have affected UK and US directly. 

In term of numbers, the profile of Russia Today has risen exponentially, we believe, but BBC and American channels still have the numbers in their favour in their own countries.

There is no doubt now that Russia Today has become a key player of news and current affairs in the world stage.

As for Arbolioto Twitter, our original profile description "News, opinions and blogs around the world on politics, art, gossip, ideology and humour" is still upheld today, as when it was first created. Our research is part of that too, to understand what surround us.