DP16233 Demand for Online News under Government Control: Evidence from Russia
We examine the nature of consumer demand for government-controlled online news outlets in Russia, testing whether such demand reflects a preference for pro-government ideological coverage, or other factors unrelated to outlets' ideological positions. We detect government-sensitive topics and measure outlets' news reporting decisions from news article texts, and estimate a structural model of demand for news using detailed browsing data that traces individual-level consumption. The average consumer has a distaste for pro-government ideology but a strong persistent taste for state-owned outlets, primarily driven by third-party referrals and non-sensitive news content. We discuss implications for online media control and media power.