Europe

Russia profile - Media

Russian TV viewer Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption TV is the main source of news for most Russians

Television is the most powerful sector of the Russian media industry. The main national networks are either run directly by the state or owned by companies with close links to the Kremlin.

The government controls Channel One and Russia One - two of the three main federal channels - while state-controlled energy giant Gazprom owns NTV.

TV is the main news source for most Russians. There is a fast-growing pay-TV market, led by satellite broadcaster Tricolor. The government is undertaking a project to bring digital TV to every Russian home.

An international English-language satellite news TV, RT, is state-funded and aims to present "global news from a Russian perspective".

Since the Ukraine crisis, Russian state media have intensified the pro-Kremlin and nationalistic tone of their broadcasts, pumping out a regular diet of adulation for Mr Putin, nationalistic pathos, fierce rejection of Western influence and attacks on the Kremlin's enemies.

Some observers have accused pro-Kremlin TV of spreading disinformation and conducting an information war both at home and abroad.

Hundreds of radio stations crowd the dial, around 40 in Moscow alone. State-run networks compete with music-based private FM radios. The market leader is privately-owned music station Russkoye Radio.

Risks

There are more than 400 daily newspapers, catering for most tastes. The most popular titles support Kremlin policy, and several influential dailies have been bought by companies with close links to the Kremlin.

Russian journalists run the risk of attack and even murder if they delve too deeply into sensitive subjects such as corruption, organised crime or rights abuses. Russia is a regular target for criticism and condemnation from media freedom watchdogs.

A law which came into force in 2016 caps foreign ownership of media outlets at 20 per cent. Since then, foreign companies have either quit the market or else ceded majority control of their Russian operations to local partners.

Around 102 million Russians use the internet (Internetlivestats.com, 2016). While still less tightly controlled than traditional media, the Kremlin has made moves to restrict online freedoms.

Laws allow the authorities to block websites without explanation, require popular bloggers to register with the mass media regulator Roskomnadzor and demand that internet companies give the authorities access to users' information.

Internet users have increasingly found themselves the target of criminal prosecutions for their online activity, sometimes resulting in prison terms.

The standard Russian country code top-level domain ".ru" has been joined by the Cyrillic alphabet rendering of ".rf".

The press

Image copyright Argumenty i Fakty
Image caption Hundreds of papers cater for a variety of tastes

Television

  • Russia One - national network, run by state-owned Russian State Television and Radio Broadcasting Company (VGTRK)
  • Channel One - national network, 51% owned by state, 49% by private shareholders
  • NTV - national network, owned by state-run Gazprom
  • Centre TV - owned by Moscow city government
  • Ren TV - Moscow-based commercial station with strong regional network, majority-owned by media holding NMG
  • RT - state-funded, international English-language news channel, via satellite

Radio

Image copyright Mayak
  • Radio Russia - national network run by state-owned Russian State Television and Radio Broadcasting Company (VGTRK)
  • Vesti FM - state-owned, news and talk
  • Ekho Moskvy - editorially-independent, majority owned by state-run Gazprom
  • Radio Mayak - state-run national network
  • Russkoye Radio - major private network, music-based
  • Sputnik - state-run external multimedia platform; offers radio broadcasts in some 30 languages

News agencies/internet