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Privatization Means Death Of Russian Media, Says Expert

Russian Television StudioMoscow, 12 April: Chairman of the Russian Public Chamber commission on mass media and freedom of speech Pavel Gusev says that Russian mass media are undergoing some pressure on the part of authorities that are using the media as their tool.

"Today mass media are by no means the fourth estate. This myth was probably made up in 1991 when there were no parties or any real vertical line of power. These days mass media are a tool of the authorities," Gusev told a news conference at the representative office of the European Union in the Russian Federation.

"Is the privatization of mass media possible? I officially say no. This will mean the death of mass media. This will be the end of them," he said.

Incidentally, the plan is to allocate R174bn to support mass media in which the state takes part, Gusev said.

One should not be pinning one's hopes on the Internet as a mass medium, Gusev said. "This is a mass communications medium, and not a mass medium. A mere 10 per cent (of Internet users) use the Internet as a mass medium, this means 5m Russians. And the rest use it to buy goods, erotica and pornography. Then let us consider the telephone a mass medium too," Gusev said.

Dwelling further on relations between the Internet and mass media, he drew the attention to the fact that some people even regard Internet blogs as mass media. "Many people blog in our country but are blogs mass media? They are a stream of consciousness," he said.

He gave as an example Aleksey Navalnyy's blog that is regarded as one of the most popular ones. "He does not bear any responsibility for this stream of information that he is pouring out in his blog," Gusev said.

In his speech he agreed that "there is no official censorship in Russia". "I agree. There is no censorship. But there is self-censorship. We have other forms of pressure on mass media. They (mass media) can be cut off from the printing shop or influenced through the distribution system," he said.

In conclusion Gusev said that the "'smear campaigns' and 'paid advertorials' (Russ: dzhinsa) are the most dreadful events in the Russian press". "There is nothing like it in any country of the world," Gusev said. In this connection he believes that Russian mass media should tackle self-regulation.

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