Central and local media in Russia: between central control and local initiatives
This chapter analyses the evolution of the relationship between centralized control over local media media systems and local interests at the regional level in Russia. It demonstrates that during the post-soviet period the soviet hierarchical control was reproduced as a result of the dominance of the so called “central media” over the regional media. As the political balance between federal and regional powers evolved, so did the model of media control. From this point of view the local policy during Yeltsin’s period was shaped by the shift of power from the centre, allowing the regions to develop high levels of autonomy. This transformed local media into powerful agents of local politics and contributed to the high pressure on local media from different political and elite groups. Such pressures paradoxically formed more pluralist model of the press. After 2000 the power of local media was weakened, which dissociated retired local media from elite group political processes and contributed to the monopolization of local media by local authorities especially on the basis of commercial contracts between such authorities and the press. Such contracts shape considerably the control of local media by the local authorities paying media for loyal coverage of their policies.