Mass Media in Modern Russia
Russian mass media as the tool of democracy. The law on mass-media of 1991. Strengthening the rights of mass-media and their restriction. Role of the state in becoming. Latent forms of the state intervention. Monitoring by authority of regional editions.
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It is necessary to consider information needs of the modern person as need for messages of the certain maintenance and the form which are necessary for people for orientation in the surrounding reality, specifications of a the world-outlook, for a choice of a line of conduct and the decision of problem situations, for achievement of internal balance and coordination with the social environment. Without satisfaction of these needs purposeful reasonable activity of the person is impossible. Therefore a degree of development of information needs and their satisfactions are closely connected to social activity of the person. As the data of sociological researches show, information needs in groups of an audience with the maximum degree of social activity are most intensively advanced and realized: members of elective bodies, public organizations, non-staff authors of mass-media, etc. It once again confirms the importance of inclusion of information needs in the number of criteria of efficiency of mass media their role in satisfaction of the population.
Thus it is necessary to distinguish concepts information needs and thematic interests of an audience. Information needs are social by the nature and they are also caused first of all by the maintenance, the structure of daily activity of the individual, including his objective characteristics professional and public work.
Thematic interests are the subjective reflection and the expression of information needs. They depend on the maintenance of the offered information and from situational social-psychological factors (such, as popularity, topical character, prestigiousness of the certain themes, persons, the phenomena, etc.). Not all the information needs are realized by the subject and are expressed in his thematic interests and communication behaviour; some of them remain not realized and consequently non-realized for the lack of necessary data, insufficiency of sources of the information, backwardness of communicative skills, etc.
As well as any other needs, information raises the activity of people. If they are not satisfied with the messages transferred by mass-media the audience or searches for the necessary information in other channels, or suppresses need for such information, and, hence, the activity in this sphere. Therefore it is important to know, how the satisfaction (or dissatisfaction) of the certain information needs can affect character and efficiency of daily activity of people, on their activity in various spheres of a public life. In fact the influence of radio and TV on public consciousness is measured not by number (or even quality) of pictures and ability of these means to induce a person or a social group to join in activity of a society at various levels - from a direct, nearest environment before social movements of a world scale.
The general tendency, which accompanies distribution of the urbanized way of life and introduction of general secondary education to our country, is the increasing of a variety of information needs, and the reference of the increasing part of the population to various mass media. On the one hand, it creates preconditions for increasing of system effectiveness of mass communications, and on another hand, requirements to the maintenance and efficiency of transmitted messages raise.
1. Stages of development of the Russian mass-media
1.1 Russian mass-media as the tool of democracy
Since the time of disintegration of the USSR in Russia people speak much about democracy in the country. But becoming of democracy in Russia experiences the complex period of formation. Perfection of methods of the state participation in economy, a guarantee of legitimate rights of subjects of managing, acceleration of social and spiritual development is necessary. It is especially actually because in new Russian statehood such democratic principles, as rights and personal freedoms, variety of patterns of ownership, division of authorities, the responsibility before people, multi-party system, a priority of the right and legality are incorporated. And one of three bases of functioning of the democratic state is independent mass media.
Initial Russian substantiations of necessity a free press amazingly resembled their American predecessors. It was considered, that the independent fourth authority will open and investigate potential abusing and «mistakes» of executive, legislative and judicial branches of authority. She should provide citizens with the full and objective information necessary for democratic self-management promote «clearing» of simple people from socialism, consolidate citizens of the country in support of the government during the time of the most difficult political and economic changes.
mass media authority intervention
1.2 The Russian law on mass-media of 1991
The law «About mass media», signed by President Yeltsin in two days after formal disintegration of Soviet Union in December, 1991, represented the version of the certain ideal in mutual relations of the state and mass-media. The law proclaimed revolutionary positions for that period: freedom of the mass information (free search, reception, manufacture and distribution of mass-media, free establishment of mass-media, possession, using and the order them, etc.), Inadmissibility of censorship, inadmissibility of the requirement at registration of mass-media of other documents, except for specified in the Law, are proclaimed rights on reception of the information and wide enough rights of the journalist. At the same time the new law defined a zone of national interest in formation of public consciousness. Inadmissibility of use of mass media with a view of fulfillment of penal acts, for disclosure of the state secret admitted, for an appeal to capture of authority, violent change constitutional building and integrity of the state, kindling of national, class, social, religious intolerance or break a set, for propagation of war.
One of the first independent newspapers became the newspaper «Direct speech». Its founders were young journalists from a regional newspaper. The newspaper widely represented becoming of parliamentary and legislature both on places, and at a federal level, and the newspaper was distributed in a few regions of the country.
In autumn 1994 the State Duma approved the bill of amendments and additions to a law in force, interfering federal and regional authorities to be founders of mass media, except for those of them who publish only official documents.
At the same time the hand of the state is appreciable in with what meanness it worries about a way of the organization editorial (basically newspaper) the enterprises. The law illustrates the concern even internal newspaper hierarchy. It is expressed in the requirement of the contract between the founder and the editor-in-chief, in the coordination of the rights and duties between the editor, the founder and journalists, in too much underground group of duties of the founder, the editor, edition, and journalists.
In summer 1994 the bill of the state support of mass media was developed. It aspired to resolve a lot of problems and needs of growing independent press. This law represented a cross between the American tradition of non-interference of the state in activity of mass media and practice of the Soviet past. This law entered the following changes:
Revolutions on realization of production of mass-media, editorial, publishing and polygraphist activity on manufacture of newspapers, magazines and production connected to formation, a science and culture were released from the VAT;
Editions were released from the profit tax regarding the federal budget and regarding, directed by them on financing incomes; the periodical press and book production, and also a paper, polygraphist materials and the equipment were released from the customs;
Editions of mass-media acquired the right to use post, telephone and cable communication under the tariffs stipulated for the budgetary organizations, pay a rent in the buildings being the federal property, under tariffs and the rates which are not exceeding cultures established for the organizations.
However, this law could not any more rescue the newspaper, which did not sustain the begun inflation. The financial need has quickly put a significant part of new private press on a side of existence and has made its more and more dependent from the governmental grants.
1.3 Disputes around the new law and returning of censorship
In 1992 the conflict around the distribution of authority in the society became deeper. The law of 1991 concerned mostly immunity of press from the governmental intervention. But disagreements inside the ruling building have shown disputes about the control over groups of interests, that the purpose of immunity is not achieved. The main center of struggle and political delimitation became redistribution of the control over mass media and especially the control over TV that as a result has led to storm of Ostankino. Fights for the control over mass media became sharper in 1992 and in the beginning of 1993. They were reflection of fatal enmity between the President and Parliament.
Yeltsin's decree «About guarantees of information stability and requirements to tele-and radio - broadcasting» on the one hand protected TV reporters, from another one; its aim was the compulsion of press to loyalty to the President, but not to Parliament. Minister of Press and information, Michael Fedorov, retired on August, 21, 1993, having accused in all mortal sins the parliamentary supervisory councils which, under his statement, have been already founded and have started to work everywhere in regions: «They have already distributed a broadcasting time. They solve, who can be shown, and who is not present. Lists of desirable and undesirable announcers … the Ultimate goal of this game consists of introduction of censorship of freedom and freedom of censorship». To one of principal causes of this hot opposition between the President and the Supreme Soviet in summer and autumn of 1993 became a question on the control over mass media. And though nobody meant, that the mass media are necessary for the construction of the democratic state as there was an ordinary struggle for the authority, invocations of all parties to a duty to protect freedom of press nevertheless were typical.
Signing by Yeltsin on September, 21 the decisions on the postponement of activity, and then and on dissolution of Parliament led to immediate introduction of censorship. At least ten newspapers were closed in Moscow after the events of the beginning of October, 1993, and at first all newspapers which have been obliged before the publication were exposed to censorship to represent the materials on check in the Government. Referring to the law on mass-media, on September, 23 Council of Ministers disposed about time closing additional number of mass-media, namely newspapers, magazines, radio and television programs of the Supreme Soviet. The shift from law to force was characterized by bloody fight in Ostankino, becoming one of last certificates of the conflict between the President and Parliament. To the television cameras, which showed the stages of route and destructions, were able to show as well, that the control proceeding from the law was only a thin veil under which the armed march, capture of the tower-transmitter or an arbitrariness of censorship were always ready to arise.
1.4 Strengthening the rights of mass-media and their restriction
After fight for Ostankino the condition reminding leadership of the right was restored. In January, 1994 the Governmental order «Questions of maintenance of the edition and distribution of mass media, production of polygraphist manufacture» was issued. For the development of pluralistic broadcast systems of Russia the important step was Yeltsin's order to license for a television announcement of the private company of NTV. Then, in 1994 the Law on the state support of mass media about which we spoke above was also developed.
However, despite of rhetorical independence, regular counteraction to growth of nongovernmental TV was observed though many years have passed after the disintegration of Soviet Union. In 1994 when the company of NTV began to threaten strongly to the domination of the Central TV in display of news, the Government has threatened to withdraw its license because of ostensibly unfavorable representation of Yeltsin's military campaign in the Chechen Republic. In 2001 NTV closed, after it TV - 6 was also closed. It is possible to speak as much as necessary about the economic reasons of closing of these broadcasting companies, however the interest of authority in their absence in the information market was too obvious.
Many municipalities both local and regional received the channels or began to participate in the private channels organized as joint venture. Besides the government has disposed in spring 1994, that the state channels should have limited time given to the independent organizations for an announcement of their materials. On the market of advertising the manipulations directed on causing harm to small independent enterprises whereas large state channels increased number of advertising minutes. In this atmosphere the Agency of the USA on the international development has decided to carry out the program of support of independent TV, broadcasting and press of Russia in hope for that role which they can play in expansion and strengthening of democracy. The agency defined the purposes: Financial practical and politically independent nongovernmental sector of mass-media is the basic mechanism of maintenance of the responsibility of the democratic government for the actions; such sector is useful to maintenance of truthfulness of existing state mass-media, such sector protects freedom of press. The agency wanted to reduce the influence, which state could render on nongovernmental press due to the economic control over typographical capacities, distribution and information networks.
2. Mass-media in Russia after 2000
2.1 Role of the state in becoming mass-media
«In becoming of mass-media in Russia as a tool of democracy the major role belongs to the state. Therefore the state doctrine is necessary concerning mass media. In this doctrine it is necessary to define precisely, that the state institutes from mass-media as want the tool of becoming of a democratic society,» professor of the Moscow State University, the doctor of sociological sciences M.P. Bocharov said. At the same time he noted, that in a society in ten years of democracy occurs reconsideration of democracy and of the role of mass media. Mass media as the tool of democracy is that that have made to promote formation of the main tool of democracy - the civil society.
Certainly, the TV in new market conditions remains the major resource. According to statistics, 91% of the population of the country the watch TV every day. Every second person in Russia switch on TV as soon as enters into the house. 55% have TV at home. So it is possible to say that TV is a fundamental instrument of life-support, which alongside with «paper» mass media gives representation about significant persons, treatment of an economic and political situation, representation about social values, priorities, habits, stereotypes, myths. But today mass media do not solve with this problem.
2.2 Latent forms of the state intervention
Problems existing today in sphere of mass-media are based on the fact that the state, having declared about freedom of press, in practice constantly interferes with activity of mass media, does not give an opportunity of high-grade development of independent mass-media. This intervention is expressed in an ambiguity of legislative formulations, in an establishment of discrimination tax installations for objectionable mass media.
From the point of view of a principle of leadership of the right there exist three basic attributes of the estimation of language of the laws concerning to mass-media: 1) simplicity and clearness, 2) a way of distribution, 3) availability. In the United States the idea of simplicity and clearness is fixed in the doctrine, which says, that the law has no validity in case of his vagueness. One example from practice of the Russian mass media shows us the situation in our country. According to law №191 from 1.12.95 «About the state support of mass media», editorial, publishing on manufacture … newspaper production are released from the tax to the added cost. On the basis of the specified laws the State Tax Service has issued the instruction for the divisions in which «deciphers» positions of laws: «Can be released from taxation on the added cost а) revolutions on realization of production of mass media; б) the means acting from advertisers-customers also are not assessed on the added cost». Comparing to the positions of laws and instructions, the unequivocal conclusion arises: tax specialists got to know, that gathering by edition of means from advertisers-customers is editorial activity on manufacture by newspaper production. As gathering and publication of announcements of physical persons is precisely the same activity for edition, as gathering and publication of advertising (authors of announcements are physical persons and legal persons differ only), the edition found lawful to not assess the VAT as well the means, which have acted from physical persons.
In spite of existing of judicial precedents, strangely enough, that acceptance of other, opposite decisions was not affected. Here is important that the author of clause in «the Russian newspaper» writes that it is possible to prove, that neither balances of the enterprises, nor announcements of employment also are not assessed with the VAT. But judiciary practice in Russia is extremely ambiguous.
It is even easier to manipulate mass media at a local level because officials have almost unlimited the circle of their opportunities. Such opportunities open many ways in manipulation the laws, which have been not directed, literally, against the maintenance, but at the seeming neutrality in relation to the maintenance actually giving an opportunity to influence decision-making process by editors of mass media.
The attempts to restrain freedom of press were undertaken during the last years. One of the last was the initiative of Legislative assembly of the Nizhniy Novgorod area about modification in clause 16 «the Law on mass-media». The changes concern increasing of the responsibility of mass media for the insult of honour and advantage of physical persons. As the new edition declare, any citizen can start an action and insist on liquidation of this or that mass media which during a year touched his honour and advantage, giving to the public the false data. Thus the facts of such behaviour of mass media should be confirmed with court. Chairman of Legislative assembly Dmitry Bednjakov noted, that this initiative starts to be effective more and more because of the professionalism at mass media that frequently is not sufficient. In spite of the fact that the last edition of clause 16 precisely enough registers the order of the termination or stay of activity of mass media, the next attempt is done to restrain more mass media in their rights, to put in dependence practically on any person. There is no doubt, that the State Duma that will give advantages for elimination of objectionable editions could accept this addition. It is necessary to hope only, that deputies of the State Duma are more democratic to reject the specified initiative of the Nizhniy Novgorod members of parliament.
2.3 Monitoring by authority of regional editions
When the Russian mass media just started to come to the senses after the shock events of the middle of 90th years, The August default of 1998 burst. Practically on the order the price for paper grew, the advertising market fell. The press again appeared in an economic hole. It was necessary to use the advantage of political forces to buy up mass media, to receive control above them. It's known, that the control carry out basically powerful political or economic groups. But as the «big» economy is inseparable from a policy and it is necessary to speak only about political control.
There are the data showing, that in each of regions of Russia there are newspapers (from one and more). From them 67 (79,8% of regional newspapers) or directly are founded (and, accordingly, are financed) by municipal institutions of local government, or with participation of a share of the municipal property. Nine newspapers (10,7% from the general number) represent the industrial enterprises or groups of the industrial enterprises. And only six newspapers (7% from the general number of regional press) are private.
Thus, if to start with a parcel, that free mass media - the tool of democracy, then in the whole country (not considering mega cities) there's no more democracy today than seven percent.
2.4 Necessity of changes for sphere of mass media
Today the distribution of mass information gradually becomes a unique sphere of enterprise activity (certainly, the question is the notorious seven percent of private newspapers). However in this sphere successful private enterprises are compelled to compete to the unprofitable monsters founded by the state authorities and management. The budgetary funds directed on a covering of losses of mass-media, for example, in Mordovia, can be comparable to charges on all youth policy, all cultures and all sports, taken together. A similar situation can be found in other regions. For example, in budget of area of Nizhniy Novgorod in 2002 it was planned to allocate 36 million 114 thousand rubles on the maintenance of mass media while, for example, on development of physical culture and sports this year the area has planned to exhaust 34821 thousand rubles. And the comparison of charges of the regional budget shows, that, for example, in 2000 on mass media it was spent 947 thousand rubles (the excess from planned was 349%) while on major overhaul to structures of housing and communal services of area it is allocated 777 thousand rubles (it is financed from the plan of 9,06% of percent), under clause «physical culture» - 55 thousand rubles (are financed only 20% from the plan). And at the same time it is necessary to mention, that despite of financial injections, the state and municipal mass media do not consult with the problems, the main of which is the formation of public opinion. Nowadays the state mass media can assert any interests that are necessary to satisfy, but not the interests of the state. Basically public funds are spent for the protection of quite concrete private interests of officials. That one pre-election campaign ИБ lead to the Mordovian mass-media «All Russia» when the only propaganda number of the newspaper «News of Mordovia» was issued by circulation in thousands of copies though usual circulation is necessary in some thousands only.
There are arguments against the deprivation of the state and municipal mass media of state grants: there should be the newspapers reflecting the point of view of authorities. Journalists of the newspapers, deprived grants, will stay without work. Closing of any mass media is the pressure upon a freedom of speech. At the present stage all the existing and possible arguments are quite fair because there is nothing to object on similar socialist demagogy. The fact, that the state press doesn't exist in really democratic countries, and, probably, never existed, will not convince officials.
Grants of the state press are the money, which has been spent in vein. Editorial collectives got used to getting some money state that made them nonprofessional, in editions there is no economic planning, debts for municipal services, rent, polygraphist services grew. The position on the market of advertising is very weak. Popularity among readers is low. In editions there is no elementary management, nobody thinks of minimization of expenses (alternative distribution, minimization of expenses on the stage of preparation, an optimum, flexible, stimulating payment, etc.) As an example it is possible to compare today's circulations of the private and state newspapers. The difference in circulation as a parameter of popularity among readers, confirms everything that was said before.
The state policy existing today in Russia in sphere of mass media is inefficient, does not stimulate the occurrence of free, independent editions. Absence of free press as a tool of democracy does not promote development of a genuine democracy in the country, especially on places. Individual independent editions cannot affect in a due measure the deepening of democracy. The system of mass media existing today serves basically the interests of officials, political forces and oligarchs (including the regional level), serves as the tool of struggle for authority, elimination of objectionable contenders in sphere of a policy and the big business. The state and municipal grants in private mass-media brake the development of competition in this sphere, do not promote occurrence of professional journalists and becoming of the market of mass media as spheres of business. The judicial system as a whole is imperfect, that is negatively reflected and in activity of mass media.
It's considered that such actions are necessary for continuation of democratic processes, as:
1. The further perfection of judicial system in the direction of objectivity, legal independence of the state.
2. Privatization in sphere of printed mass media, especially on places. The state program on privatization of local editions, gradual liquidation of the newspapers incorporating founders the state and municipal bodies.
3. The program on preparation in higher educational institutions of managers of mass media.
4. Introduction of competitive system of distribution of budgetary funds to newspapers for the publication of official documents and statutory acts.
5. Universal creation of the unions, associations of free, independent mass media for the joint decision of existing problems in this sphere.
6. Popularization at a federal level of system of free mass-media, the organization in the state scale of seminars, an exchange of experience with mass media of the democratic countries.
7. Revision of a tax policy concerning mass media, prohibition (up to administrative, criminal sanctions) unreasonable pressure upon mass-media on the part of the state, municipal bodies.
8. Encouragement (including the increasing of deductions from the budget of higher organizations) those subjects and municipal formations where creation of free, independent mass media is encouraged.
9. Restoration of the system of operative reaction (to recollect the traditions of Soviet time) on the part of federal bodies and subjects of the Russian Federation on the publication and the message on illegal activity of officials of all levels.
Under condition of realization of these proposals the increase of efficiency of activity of modern Russian mass media is probably possible. The efficiency of activity of mass media can be investigated and appreciated only in comparison to the purposes that are put by society for these means. The realization of this problem is inextricably linked with more exact account of needs of people, their increased social, spiritual and political inquiries. The attention of sociologists to this aspect of efficiency has already noticeably increased recently.
The satisfaction of information needs of an audience is necessary for including in number of the purposes of mass media as purpose-means for achievement of other, administrative problems of mass influence.
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