Russia profile

Russian TV viewer TV is the main source of news for most Russians

Russian TV is dominated by channels that 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. Critics say independent reporting has suffered as a result.

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".

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.

Concern over media freedom in Russia increased in December 2013, when the Kremlin announced that the state-owned news agency RIA Novosti - which had distinguished itself by its even-handed coverage of anti-Putin protests in 2012 and the trial of Alexei Navalny in 2013 - and the Voice of Russia radio station would be restructured and placed under the control of a pro-Kremlin figure known for his extreme anti-Western views.

Around 68 million Russians use the internet (Internetworldstats, June 2012). The web is less tightly controlled than traditional media, and opposition forces have found a home online. The most popular online sources are portals, blogging platforms and social networks.

Legislation that came into force in 2012 allows the government to block websites with banned content. Critics said its wording could be exploited to block opposition sites.

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

The press

Newspaper logo 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

Logo for radio Mayak
  • Radio Russia - national network run by state-owned Russian State Television and Radio Broadcasting Company (VGTRK)
  • Ekho Moskvy - editorially-independent station, majority owned by state-run Gazprom
  • Radio Mayak - state-run national network
  • Russkoye Radio - major private network, music-based
  • Voice of Russia - state-run external service, broadcasts in English and other languages

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