Russian Federation - Media Landscape
|Suffrage||Universal; 18 yrs of age|
|Total imports (%EU)||€ 165 bn (6,17%) (2007)|
|Total exports (%EU)||€ 232 bn (10,15%) (2007)|
|GDP||€ 1.325 tn (2007)|
|GDP per capita||€ 9.323,75 (2007)|
|Literacy rate||100% (2003)|
|Internet users (per 1000 people)||189 (2006)|
|Languages||Russian, 27 official minority languages|
During the Soviet era, Russia had a long and well-established tradition of print media readership. From 1970-90, practically every Russian household subscribed to several periodicals: one or two leading central newspapers (such as Pravda, Izvestiya, etc.), at least one local/republican newspaper and several specific magazines (e.g. for the members of the Communist Party, farmers, workers, etc.). The subscription rate of those publications was unreasonably low while the circulation was quite high. This was due to the state system of media financing, in which the idea of media profitability did not play any significant role. The collapse of the Soviet Union has changed this system forever.
The period of perestroika under Gorbachev was the most productive time for the Soviet media. State control and censorship were waning. Economic and financial pressures had not yet struck media outlets. Such independence brought a great deal of freedom of expression.
At the same time, the system of state subsidies that existed under communism vanished. Publications were left to struggle for survival. Now, although the trend of media growth continues, the boom times of the 80s and 90s have gone.
While national television channels are under government control or influence, newspaper ownership has diversified.
The media freedom situation has not improved much in recent years. In July, 2006, the Russian Parliament approved a bill amending the Law on Fighting Extremist Activity. Former president Vladimir Putin signed the bill into law in the same month. According to the bill, media criticism, such as public slander of state officials, is included in the definition of extremist activity It is punishable by up to three years’ imprisonment.
In the early 1990s, the majority of print outlets were owned by staffers and/or chief editors. Delayed paycheques and huge external debts became the new reality of the post-Soviet press. The situation started changing in the mid-1990s when a new class of Russian businessmen emerged and many new entertainment and fashion magazines of high printing quality began to appear.
According to the Ministry of Press data, there are 37,425 print media outlets officially registered in Russia. Of these, 22,181 are newspapers and 12,726 are magazines. However, many of these outlets have very low circulation. Increase in newspaper prices has inevitably decreased readership. Subscription rates have fallen for practically all outlets. As a rule, Russians buy one newspaper on a weekly basis. Many newspapers have thus moved from daily editions to weekly ones or have introduced the popular special weekly editions.
The leading Soviet times newspapers, such as Pravda, Izvestiya, Trud, and Moskovskiye Novosti have preserved their positions. Argumenty I Facty, Komsomolskaya Pravda, and Moskovsky Komsomolets still remain among the most popular national print media. The Moscow Times is the most popular English-language daily in Russia.
There are around 30 large-scale information and news agencies in Russia.
Interfax News Agency is part of the international news network Interfax Information Services. ITAR-TASS the biggest state news agency and was so even during the Soviet era. RIA NOVOSTI is the state information and analytical agency of the Russian Federation. RosBusinessConsulting (RBC) offers primarily internet-based financial and economic news and is currently one of the most popular news internet resources and the most popular news agency among Russian internet users.
Also worth mentioning is the Russian Information Center, a rather controversial structure created by the Ministry of Press and RIA NOVOSTI in 1999. Its purpose is to disseminate an official view and news on the war in Chechnya.
Television remains the most popular medium in the country. Its popularity has increased since the 1990s. This is not only a result of bigger diversity and better quality of programmes but also because television is much cheaper than newspapers. There is no fee to receive the regular national channels. Moreover, Russia has inherited a highly developed network of television transmission from the Soviet era. All national programmes at that time were broadcast from Moscow.
The first national channel - Public Russian Television (ORT) - is the biggest TV channel in the country with total penetration of 98 percent of the Russian territory or 140 million viewers. The TV channel Russia is the second national channel with total penetration of 98.5 percent of the territory and 50 million viewers. ORT is the largest national joint-stock TV company with 51 percent of the shares controlled by the Russian state. The second national channel - Russia - is completely state-run.
NTV is the only private national Russian TV channel. It covers approximately 95 percent of the country’s territory and has an audience of 110 million viewers.
There are 2,378 radio stations officially registered in the country. Music radio stations have great popularity in Russia. The leading Russian ‘news and analysis’ radio stations include Radio Mayak, Radio of Russia and Echo of Moscow. There are also several popular foreign radio stations which were already broadcasting on the shortwave bands prior to the collapse of the USSR: Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.
Online Russian media have developed rapidly in recent years. Undoubtedly, Russia lags behind developed countries in certain aspects – primarily in Internet access.
Despite a lack of access for the general population, there are 868 online periodical outlets officially registered in the country. Russia is also one of the few countries in the world where online journalism - online-only news organisations - have received serious attention and development.
Polit.ru a news and politics internet portal is one of the oldest Russian news sites on the Internet. It was founded in 1996. By the year 1999, Russia already had several prominent online papers: the first internet daily Gazeta.ru, the first round-the-clock news service Lenta.ru, Russky Zhurnal and online papers Utro.ru, Vesti.Ru.
One of the most powerful information resources is Strana.ru. It is a national information system which includes a main portal and regional websites in each of Russia’s federal districts. All leading national TV channels are broadcast on this site in real-time. It is officially an independent Internet site, but it works very closely with the state media.
The telephone systems in the 60 regional capitals have modern digital infrastructures. Cellular services, both analogue and digital, are available in many areas. In the rural areas, the telephone services are still outdated, inadequate, and low density. Mobile phone usage has increased drastically but is faced with problems of supply (and not demand).
Learning and support
Internews Russia is a non-profit organisation working in collaboration with other Internews offices in the US, Western and Eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa to support independent media with the goal of enhancing worldwide tolerance and understanding.
Eurasia-Media, part of the NGO New Eurasia Foundation, is dedicated to supporting the establishment and development of independent, quality news media in Russia, through a combination of grants and targeted programs. http://www.efmedia.ru
The Foundation for Independent Radio Broadcasting (FNR) is s Russian NGO, aimed at the development of quality and independent radio broadcasting. It is the only Russian NGO producing its own radio programmes on regular basis. (http://www.fnr.ru. http://www.radioportal.ru)
Altay State University, department of journalism, is based on Altapress, one of the major independent media companies in Siberia.
Voronezh State University, Faculty of Journalism
M.V. Lomonosov Moscow State University, Faculty of Journalism, hosts 3000 students from Russia and over 250 international students. http://www.journ.msu.ru/eng/index_eng.htm
The Russian Union of Journalists (RUJ) is Russia’s largest public organisation with more than 100.000 members, providing information regarding the situation in the Russian media.
Russian News and Information Agency RIA Novosti
4 Zubovsky Bulvar
Tel: +7 (495) 637-2424
M.V. Lomonosov Moscow State University
Tel: +7 495 6293908