Media of Russia
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The media of Russia is diverse, with a wide range of broadcast and print outlets available to the consumer.
In total, there are 93,000 media outlets in Russia, including 27,000 newspapers and magazines and 330 television channels. Television is the most popular source of information. There are three television channels with a nationwide outreach, and a multitude of regional channels. Local and national newspapers are the second most popular choice, while the Internet comes third. In all media spheres there is a mixture of private and state-ownership. The three nationwide television channels have been criticised for their alleged lack of neutrality.
Having marginalised print media, Putin turned his attention to Russian television. Broadcasters that once carried lively debates were turned into stultifying Kremlin instruments. As state-controlled TV stations began to spout increasingly convoluted theories to demonstrate their loyalty to Putin, Russian propaganda entered the realm of the absurd – so much so that Soviet propagandists would hide behind their Putinist counterparts.
The organisation Reporters Without Borders compiles and publishes an annual ranking of countries based upon the organisation's assessment of their press freedom records. In 2013 Russia was ranked 148th out of 179 countries, six places below the previous year, mainly due to the return of Vladimir Putin. Freedom House compiles a similar ranking and placed Russia at number 176 out of 197 countries for press freedom for 2013, putting it level with Sudan and Ethiopia. The Committee to Protect Journalists states that Russia was the country with the 10th largest number of journalists killed since 1992, 26 of them since the beginning of 2000, including four from Novaya Gazeta. It also placed Russia at number 9 in the world for numbers of journalists killed with complete impunity.
Although modern Russian journalism has transformed from being a state job (Soviet era) to a market freelance position (post-Soviet era), it is mostly unchanged in its political subordination. This paradox of market freedom and political non-freedom is a consequence of "guided democracy" or "simulation democracy" in which, as Dmitry Furman (2010) explains, "democratic institutions and rules of law play a role of (fake) veneer, camouflage to hide the authoritarian system."
In December 2014, a Russian investigative site published e-mails, leaked by the hackers' group Shaltai Boltai, which indicated close links between Timur Prokopenko, a member of Vladimir Putin's administration, and Russian journalists, some of whom published Kremlin-prepared articles under their own names.
Russia has over 400 daily newspapers, covering many fields, and offering a range of perspectives. The total number of newspapers in Russia is 8,978, and they have a total annual circulation of 8.2 billion copies. There are also 6,698 magazines and periodicals with a total annual circulation of 1.6 billion copies. Russia has the largest number of newspaper journalists in the world (102,300), followed by China (82,849) and the United States (54,134), according to statistics published by UNESCO in 2005.
Newspapers are the second most popular media in Russia, after television. Local newspapers are more popular than national ones, with 27% of Russians consulting local newspapers routinely and 40% reading them occasionally. For national newspapers, the corresponding figures are 18% and 38%, respectively.
According to figures from the National Circulation Service agency, the most popular newspaper is Argumenty i Fakty which has a circulation of 2.9 million. It is followed by Weekly Life (1.9 million), TV Guide (1.2 million) and Perm Region Izvestiya (1 million). However, only about half of all Russian newspapers are registered with the agency. Some leading newspapers in Russia are tabloids, including Zhizn. The most important business newspapers are Vedomosti and the influential Kommersant. Many newspapers are opposition-leaning, such as the critical Nezavisimaya Gazeta and Novaya Gazeta, which is known for its investigative journalism. The main English-language newspapers are Moscow Times and The St. Petersburg Times. Six of the ten most circulated Russian newspapers are based in Moscow, while the other four are based in other cities and regions.
- Rossiyskaya Gazeta – government-owned daily
- Izvestia – popular daily
- Komsomolskaya Pravda – mass circulation, left-leaning daily
- Trud – left-leaning daily
- Argumenty i Fakty – popular weekly
- Moskovskiye Novosti – daily. Owned by Rossiya Segodnya through the RIA Novosti news agency.
- Kommersant – daily, news and business-orientated
- Moskovskij Komsomolets – popular daily
- Nezavisimaya Gazeta – pro-opposition privately owned daily
- Novaya Gazeta – daily, known for its investigative journalism
- Vedomosti – daily financial and analytical newspaper
- RBC Daily – daily financial and analytical newspaper
- Sport Express – daily sport newspaper
- Sovetsky Sport – daily sport newspaper
- The New Times – weekly independent newspaper
- Vokrug sveta – monthly popular science magazine
- Za Rulem - monthly car magazine
- Autoreview - bimonthly car magazine
- Expert - weekly business magazine
- Russian reporter - weekly sociopolitical magazine
- Afisha - bimontly magazine on urban developments in the field of entertainment
- Znanie-Sila - monthly popular science magazine
- Ogonyok - socio-political and literary illustrated weekly magazine
- Tekhnika Molodezhi - monthly popular science and literary magazine
- Literaturnaya Gazeta - weekly literary and sociopolitic
- Zhizn - weekly tabloid
- Sport Express - sport daily
- Sovetsky Sport - sport daily (except Sunday)
Main online newspapers
- Gazeta.ru - politics and business online newspaper
- LifeNews - tabloid
- Slon.ru - business online newspaper
- Grani.ru - opposition online newspaper
- Vesti.ru - state-owned online newspaper
- Sdelanounas.ru - independent project for the publication of information about innovation and opening new production facilities in Russia
Television is the most popular media in Russia, with 74% of the population watching national television channels routinely and 59% routinely watching regional channels. There are 330 television channels in total. Three channels have a nationwide outreach (over 90% coverage of the Russian territory): First Channel, Rossiya and NTV. According to 2005 television ratings, the most popular channel was First Channel (22.9%), followed by Rossiya (22.6%). The survey responders' local TV company was third with a rating of 12.3%. The three national TV channels provide both news and entertainment, while the most popular entertainment-only channels are STS (10.3% rating) and TNT (6.7%). The most popular sports channel is Russia 2 (formerly Sport; rating 1.8%), while the most popular culture channel is Russia K (formerly Kultura; rating 2.5%). Russia K and Russia 2 have the third and fourth largest coverage of all Russian TV channels, with Russia K reaching 78.9% of the urban and 36.2% of the rural population and Russia 2 reaching 51.5% and 15.6%, respectively.
Two of the three main channels are majority owned by the state. First Channel is 51% publicly owned, while Rossiya is 100% state-owned through the All-Russia State Television and Radio Broadcasting Company (VGTRK). NTV is a commercial channel, but it is owned by Gazprom-Media, a subsidiary of Gazprom of which the state owns 50.002%. These three channels have often come under criticism for being biased towards the United Russia party and the Presidential Administration of Russia. They are accused of providing disproportionate and uncritical coverage of United Russia and their candidates. The channels do, however, provide large amounts of free airtime to all opposition election candidates, as required by law. During the Russian presidential election, 2008, the four presidential candidates all received 21 hours of airtime on the three main channels to debate each other and present their views. According to research conducted by Professor Sarah Oates, most Russians believe that news reporting on the three national television channels is selective and unbalanced, but view this as appropriate. The responders to the study made it clear that they believe the role of state television should be to provide central authority and order in troubled times.
Main television channels
- First Channel – national, state-owned channel – news and entertainment
- Rossiya 1 – national, state-owned channel – news and entertainment
- Zvezda – national, owned by Russian Ministry of Defense
- NTV – national 50% state-owned – news and entertainment
- Russia K – state-owned – culture and arts
- Russia 2 – state-owned, commercial
- Russia 24 – state-owned – news channel
- Petersburg – Channel 5 – state-owned – commercial
- TV Center – owned by Moscow city government – news and entertainment
- STS – commercial – entertainment
- Domashny – commercial, entertainment
- TNT – state-owned, commercial
- Ren TV – Moscow-based commercial station with strong regional network
- Russia Today – state-funded, international English-language news channel
- Dozhd – private independent news channel
- ProRussia.tv – state-owned, in French
There are three main nationwide radio stations in Russia: Radio Russia (coverage: 96.9% of the population), Radio Mayak (92.4%) and Radio Yunost (51.0%). Most radio stations focused on broadcasting music but they also offered some news and analysis. Especially famous had been the independent Gazprom-controlled station Echo of Moscow, once known for its political independence.
- Radio Russia – national network
- Radio Mayak – state-run national network
- Radio Yunost – youth station
- Echo of Moscow – news and analysis. On 18 February 2014, a shareholders' meeting replaced the station's long-serving director, Yury Fedutinov, with former the Voice of Russia's Yekaterina Pavlova, a Kremlin-loyalist in 'the latest in a series of personnel reshuffles at top state-owned media organizations that appear to point toward a tightening of Kremlin control over an already heavily regulated media landscape' the state owned RIA Novosti news agency reported the same day. The station's editor-in-chief, Alexei Venediktov, and his deputy, Vladimir Varfolomeev, were also removed from the broadcaster's board of directors. Venediktov, one of the station's founders, had written on March 11 on his Twitter account: 'Gazprommedia (owner of 66% of the broadcaster’s shares) urged the early dismissal of the radio’s board of directors and a change in independent directors'.
- Europa Plus – private national network
- Russkoye Radio – private national network
- AvtoRadio – state-owned/private national network
- Nashe Radio – rock music
- Radio Record – club/dance radio network
- Voice of Russia – (Golos Rossii) a state-run external service, broadcasting in English and other languages. (Like the RIA Novosti news agency, the broadcaster was merged into a new media agency Rossiya Segodnya, officially "to save money", under a 9 December 2013 presidential decree.)
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Russian media aggregators
- Integrum – private
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