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Russia's media revolution : from party control to money control

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Publication Date: January 1998

Publisher(s): East-West Center

Author(s): Gennadi Gerasimov

Series: AsiaPacific issues ; no. 37

Topic: Media, telecommunications, and information (Mass media)
Politics (Politics)

Type: Report

Coverage: Russia (Federation)


The Russian media have undergone a revolution in the last decade, bursting free from state control and enjoying a brief, heady period of liberty. Starting in 1986, many media voices began vying for the attention of voracious readers, who had been deprived for generations of all but the Communist Party line. This newfound free press, however, has now fallen prey to widespread corruption and politicization. Control by the party has been replaced with control by those with money. But old habits die hard, and local and national politicians are getting into the game, financing broadcast and print media with public and private funds to advance their own causes and careers. Commercial publishers have dramatically increased the number and variety of periodicals. Yet, paradoxically, readership which had soared to record highs by 1991 has fallen precipitously. One reason is the new, high cost of publications which no longer receive state subsidies. But disenchantment with content and a sense of futility about the impact of journalism are also to blame.