The development of Russian media has been and still continues to be increasingly influenced by the new multimedia system. The competition of conventional media with ‘other’ digital and interactive media is growing all over Russian in various forms. For instance, in the ‘capitals’ – Moscow and St. Petersburg – challenges are coming from social networks accessed mostly through mobile platforms, while in large industrial centers the most visible competitors are online broadband media as well as cable and satellite. However, the digital divide in less developed regions still keeps small cities and agrarian areas without any serious to free on-air federal channels and local newspapers associated with local governments.
Nevertheless, online media have dramatically broadened the scope of news, analytical information and entertainment available to general audiences providing parallel and alternative agendas. It is obvious that Runet, the Russian-language content segment of the Internet, has become an intrinsic part of the media system, and the future social and industrial developments would increase the role of digital media in Russia.
Coming changes in the Russian media system appear to be a rather complex phenomenon in which:
- generally accessible terrestrial federal channels, meeting the demand of the federal government as well as global and national advertisers, took on the functions of covering national politics and mass entertainment;
- regional print and terrestrial audiovisual media focused on catering to local audiences, political and financial elites and local advertisers;
- non-terrestrial pay television channels provide fragmented audiences with programs specialised in terms of themes and genres (news, sports, films, educational and awareness-raising content);
- new media (online mass media, social networks) create communities in response to users’ specialised media demands setting corporate, parallel or alternative agendas and uniting the audience irrespective of its members’ place of residence.