The Club of Orthodox Journalists intends to establish a public council on morality in regards to programming on Russian federal TV channels. “The council won’t be involved in any kind of censorship, especially preliminary. The moral council should give its judgement on the actions of the TV management and not resort to censorship”, Aleksandr Shchipkov, chairman of the Club of Orthodox Journalists and councillor to the Chairman of the Council of Federation, said at a press conference in Moscow. He said that the council would welcome all experts regardless of their sex, age, nationality, or religious confession. No date has been decided upon for the establishment of the council. Mr Shchipkov hopes its registration will be preceded by a wide public discussion on the format of the council’s work and proposes that both religious organisations and secular structures play a part in it. The source of the funding for the council should also be discussed. We should decide whether the money comes from the state or allied funding from the budget, or should it come from corporations and social grants. “Society has lost control over TV channels, thus, standards of public morality are violated and it results in the corruption of children”, Mr Shchipkov pointed up. Yevgeny Nikiforov, President of the Orthodox media organisation Radonezh, stated that the council should in no way limit creative freedom and freedom of speech, it should only intend to oppose the “’freedom’ of business, and the ‘freedom’ of greed”. “The task of a normal society is to limit the antisocial thirst of capitalism. Two things are dominant on the TV today… glamour and the gag, the public swallows them indiscriminately”, Mr Nikiforov emphasised. He considered that the programme Fire in the Jungle broadcast late on December 31 by NTV was “inspired by an evil spirit” and considered it as being “below all criteria, it was something absolutely unacceptable”. According to Mr Nikiforov, the council should also protect the honour and dignity of journalists. Fr Vladimir Vigilyansky, head of the press service of the Moscow Patriarchate, believes that the present leadership in TV belongs to “a censorship of the money bags and a censorship of vulgarity that impedes open and free creative work”. Fr Vladimir thinks that the Church’s stance for morality in the media is natural, as the Church has concrete ethical laws and standards in distinction from “the perception of the non-religious, where truth and moral criteria suffer corruption”.
16 January 2008