The current system of Russian news agencies has been dramatically changed after the USSR where one of the global ‘big five’ news agencies, the Telegraphnoye agentstvo Sovetskogo Sojuza (Telegraph Agency of the Soviet Union - TASS), kept a domestic monopoly. The emergence of post-Soviet news agencies in the 1990s was a part of media transformations with the establishment of numerous private companies in the field. After the two decades of professionalisation a few hundred state-owned and private companies survived and provide news services that have shaped the segment of Russian news agencies in three major segments. They are:
- national agencies – large all-Russian news agencies producing thematically universal information (state-owned TASS and MIA “Rossiya Segodnya”, privately owned Interfax);
- specialised agencies – mostly private companies based in Moscow and in a few big cities, different in operation scale, production of thematically segmented content and catering for particular consumer groups,
- regional agencies – mostly private news agencies based in urban centers which accumulate regional news and cater for regional news markets.
The largest Russian news agencies (TASS, MIA Rossiya Segodnya, Interfax) are agencies of a universal type because their news feeds provide information on every topic the media may care to cover: economy and finance, politics and social issues, accidents and crime, culture and sports, high life and the like. TASS and MIA Rossiya Segodnya are universal news agencies and in terms of content, these two kinds of agencies do not differ much. Interfax is primarily focusing on business information of the leading Russian industries. The relentless demand for objectivity applies to all of them. Today the ‘big three’ of Russian news agencies transformed into news companies providing news directly to audiences online and efficiently competing with traditional press and broadcasting media.
Specialised news agencies are RosBusinesConsulting - RBC (est 1993) and Agentstvo Sotsialinoi Informatsii (Agency of Social Information - ASI, est 1994) belonging to different segments of the Russian media. The development of market relations led to a great and ever-increasing demand for financial and economic information. In the early 1990s, dozens of news agencies supplying this kind of news emerged in the Russian market.