All newspapers, television channels and radio stations owned by members of the Russian government will be put up for sale, according to presidential aide Arkady Dvorkovich, Polit.ru reported today.
The announcement comes following a speech given by President Dmitry Medvedev at the Federal Assembly of Russia, during which he outlined that public figures as such should not be the owners of "factories, newspapers, steamships," Trud.ru wrote. He said official bodies should only be involved with fields that encourage quality performance of duties, suggesting that all other industries should be privatised.
Dvorovich: Image via Popnano
"Right now, it's a pointless waste of time. They are to be sold, but the date hasn't been established yet," Dvorkovich said, Interfax.ru informed.
Trud.ru pointed out that around 80 percent of regional press is currently owned by the corresponding local authorities. Dvorkovich said he believes it is necessary to focus on nurturing the concept of the Russian media as an independent source of information, News.Bcm notified.
Another possible reason for wanting to sell? Running media companies is an expensive undertaking.
In August, the Ministry of Finances predicted that the government was planning to spend RUB174 (€4.2) billion on the media industry for the time period 2011-2013. The FAPMC (Federal Agency on Press and Mass Communications of the Russian Federation), was in charge of allocating the funds appropriately, according to Trud.ru. For the time frame 2009-2015, the government is expending an additional RUB76.4 (€1.87) billion to facilitate Russia's dive into digital TV, Trud.ru added.
Throughout the following year, meanwhile, the industry would receive RUB58.8 (€1.44) billion in financial aid (or 0.6 percent of the entire federal budget for 2011), which is a plunge from 2010, Trud.ru stated. For 2012 and 2013, the media will obtain RUB60.6 (€1.48) and RUB54.4 (€1.33) billion, respectively.
The state plans to continue its monetary support of some outlets, including TV firm VGTRK (RUB15.3 billion or €374 million), news agency RIA Novosti (RUB2.4 billion), ITAR-TASS (RUB950 million or €59 million) and TV channel Russia Today (RUB6.5 billion or €159 million). Furthermore, funding will be offered to radio station Golos Rossiyi, newspaper Rossiyskaya Gazeta as well as Sportivnoe Veshanie, a more independent organisation created for broadcasting the 2014 Olympic Games in Sochi.
Russia has more than 93,000 registered media outlets, with 90 percent of them owned by private bodies with no connection to the authorities, according to Argumenti i Fakti.