Media of Russia

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The media of Russia is diverse, with a wide range of broadcast and print outlets are available to the consumer, offering all kinds of perspectives and catering for all tastes.[1] In total, there are 93,000 media outlets in Russia, including 27,000 newspapers and magazines and 330 television channels.[2] 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. However, there is no lack of independent media in Russia, especially in print media, radio and the internet.[1]

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 2011-12 Russia was ranked 142nd out of 179 countries, which was an improvement from the preceding year.[3]

The press[edit]

Russia has a very wide range of print media. There are over 400 daily newspapers, covering every field, and offering all kinds of perspectives.[4] 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.[5] 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.[6]

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.[7]

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).[8] However, only about half of all Russian newspapers are registered with the agency.[4] Some of the 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.[9][4] The main English-language newspapers are Moscow Times, The St. Petersburg Times and Moscow News. 6 of the 10 most circulated Russian newspapers are based in Moscow, while the other 4 are based in other cities and regions.[10]

Main newspapers[edit]


Television is the most popular media in Russia, with 74% of the population watching national television channels routinely and 59% routinely watching regional channels.[11] There are 330 television channels in total.[2] 3 channels have a nationwide outreach (over 90% coverage of the Russian territory): First Channel, Rossiya and NTV.[12] 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%.[13] 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%),[14] while the most popular culture channel is Russia K (formerly Kultura; rating 2.5%).[15] 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.[12]

Regional television is relatively popular in Russia, and according to a 2005 report by TNS, regional audiences rely mainly on news and analysis provided by regional channels.[16]

Ownership structure[edit]

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 came 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.[17] 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 approriate. 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.[18]

Main television channels[edit]

  • First Channel - national, state-owned channel - news and entertainment
  • Rossiya - national, state-owned channel - news and entertainment
  • Zvezda - national, owned by Russian Ministry of Defense
  • NTV - national commercial channel - 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
  • - 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%).[19] Although most radio stations focus on broadcasting music, they also offer some news and analysis. Especially famous is the independent station Echo of Moscow, known for its anti-government political programs.[20]

News agencies[edit]

There are approximately 400 news agencies in Russia. The three biggest news agencies in Russia are ITAR-TASS, RIA Novosti (which will be reformed to Rossiya Segodnya) and Interfax.

ITAR-TASS is a federal, state-owned news agency. It was founded in 1904. It existed throughout the Soviet period as the Soviet news agency TASS. In 1992 it was transformed into the news agency of Russia. Today it broadcasts in six languages across the world. The agency employs more than 500 correspondents in Russia and abroad. It is the biggest Russian news agency and one of four biggest world news agencies, together with Reuters, The Associated Press and Agence France-Presse. On a daily basis, ITAR-TASS delivers between 350 and 650 news items. The agency has the biggest archive of photos in Russia.[21]

Rossiya Segodnya (formerly RIA Novosti) is another state-owned news agency. It has correspondents in 40 countries and broadcasts in 14 languages. It was founded in 1941 as the Soviet Information Bureau. In 1990 it transformed into the Information Agency Novosti and a year later into the Russian Information Agency- RIA Novosti.

Interfax, a privately owned news agency, is part of the Interfax Information Services Group. The Interfax Group comprises more than 30 agencies throughout Russia, the CIS, China and several countries of central and eastern Europe. The Interfax agency was founded in 1989. It became the first non-state information channel in the Soviet Union. In 1993 it created the first in Russian news agency specialized in financial and economic information, Interfax-AFI.[22]

Russian media agregators[edit]

See also[edit]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ a b The Problem with Russia’s Free Press Today Is on the Side of Demand Russia Profile
  2. ^ a b Amendments to the Media Law May Complicate Foreign Broadcasting in Russia Russia Profile
  3. ^ "A Press Freedom Index 2011 - 2012". Reporters Without Borders. Retrieved 15 July 2010. 
  4. ^ a b c BBC: The press in Russia (16 May 2008)
  5. ^ "10.5. Publication of books, booklets, magazines and newspapers". Federal State Statistics Service. 2010. 
  6. ^ Treisman, p.358
  7. ^ Oates, p.128
  8. ^ Oates pp.121-122
  9. ^ Oates p.118-134
  10. ^ Oates pp.121-122
  11. ^ Oates, p.128
  12. ^ a b "19.8 Coverage by TV broadcasting". Federal Statistics Service. 2008. 
  13. ^ Oates p.120
  14. ^ Oates p.120
  15. ^ Oates, p.120
  16. ^ Oates p.120
  17. ^ Treisman, p.350
  18. ^ Oates, p.129
  19. ^ "19.7 Coverage by radio broadcasting in 2008". Federal Statistics Service. 2008. 
  20. ^ Oates, p.119
  21. ^ European Journalism Center- Media landscape: Russia
  22. ^ European Journalism Center- Media landscape: Russia


  • Oates, Sarah; McCormack, Gillian (2010). "The Media and Political Communication". In White, Stephen. Developments in Russian Politics 7. Duke University Press. ISBN 978-0-230-22449-0. 
  • Treisman, Daniel (2011). The Return: Russia's Journey from Gorbachev to Medvedev. Free Press. ISBN 978-1-4165-6071-5.