Censorship and polls
Recent poll about Russian opinion on censorship in mass media brought headlines like Poll finds massive support for censorship. What's actually the poll found (here in Russian) was a bit different. Indeed, when asked "Do you think that Russian TV needs censorship" 47% responded "Yes, definitely" and additional 35% answered "Yes, probably". But when asked which kinds of content need censorship (up to three answers, in % of respondents), Russians answered this way:
|the advertisement of dubious-quality medicine||30|
|crime-glorifying movies and TV series||24|
|the advertisement of intimate products (tampons and pads, condoms, toilet tissue etc.||24|
|Big Brother-like reality shows||15|
|tasteless pop music||8|
|excessively graphic reportage on catastrophes, terrorist acts||4|
As you can see, nobody wants political censorship, and this is the kind of censorship that really matters. So headlines like 'Russians want more censorship' are misleading. If one ask Americans whether they supports the censorship that exists on their TV, few would say yes, and many would ask back 'What are you talking about, there is no such thing'. For many do not think about ban on nudity and profanity on public airwaves as censorship. Those who support such restrictions are especially loathe to call it 'censorship', although some, like Jonah Goldberg, prefer straight talk, and call it 'the kind of censorship which I support, as opposed to political one which I oppose'. Well, Russians are with Goldberg on this issue.
Some other notes: the first place of 'sexual content' and relatively low number of 'profanity' would make some think that Russians are more prudish on the former than the latter. But these numbers reflect the character of Russian TV.
Russian taboo words 'the famous Mat) are bleeped, Russian movies very rarely contain them at all, and Western movies are translated in a way that replaces four-letter words with euphemisms, so, say, Full Metal Jacket is aired without any taboo word. When a former cop nicknamed Goblin started to translate Western movies using Russian language in full, many of his critics even said that English taboo words are not equal to Russian mat, that they are a way more acceptable. A funny notion for anyone who tried to listen how real Russians talk on streets or at work.
However, there are no real restrictions on sex and violence. Most of the channels have enough common sense to show movies by Tarantino or Tinto Brass after 10 PM, but milder ones, which would be R-rated in the USA, are showed without any formal restrictions. It's not that daytime TV is packed with them -- no, TV programmers can read polls too, but sometimes when they have no good talk show or Soviet oldie at hand, they can place an R-rated movie on, say, 5 PM slot.