Television in Russia

Television is the most popular medium in Russia, with 74% of the population watching national television channels routinely and 59% routinely watching regional channels.[1] There are 3300 television channels in total.[2] 3 channels have a nationwide outreach (over 90% coverage of the Russian territory): First Channel, Rossiya and NTV.[3]


Between 1941 and 1945 all television broadcasts in the nation were interrupted because of Nazi Germany's invasion of the Soviet Union. During these early years, most television programs were about life in the Soviet Union, cultural activities and sports.

In 1960 a second national television channel was established. This initial expansion of activity encompassed mostly the city of Moscow, but to a lesser extent also Leningrad, the Urals, Siberia and the Ukrainian SSR. Each republic, area or region had its own television station.

In the 1970s and 1980s, television become the preeminent mass medium. In 1988 approximately 75 million households owned television sets, and an estimated 93 percent of the population watched television. Moscow, the base from which most of the television stations broadcast, transmitted some 90 percent of the country's programs, with the help of more than 350 stations and nearly 1,400 relay facilities.

Updating the television in the Soviet Union, the release of its censorship by the Central Committee, began with the proclamation at the XXVII Congress of the new General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev's new political course of the party in relation to the country. Chairman of the Radio and Television was Alexander Aksenov.

In 1991, the Soviet era Gosteleradio state system included four national television channels, 52 stations in the former Soviet republics and 78 regional stations in the Russian Federation.

Today there are about 15,000 transmitters in the country. Development of domestic digital TV transmitters, led within "Multichannel" research program, had already been finished. New domestic digital transmitters have been developed and installed in Nizhniy Novgorod and Saint Petersburg in 2001-2002.


In the Russian Constitution was adopted by national referendum on December 12, 1993, article 29 "On the Rights and Freedoms of the Person and Citizen" establishes the universal right to freedom of thought and opinion, freedom of expression of beliefs and convictions, and freedom to seek, receive, transmit, produce and disseminate information. This right can be limited only by law and only "in the interests of protecting the Constitution, morality, health, rights and lawful interests of other persons, or for the defence of the country and national security". According to the Constitution, only the law can limit freedom of speech and establish limits for its expression. The fundamental piece of media-specific federal legislation is the Law on Mass Media, which was passed on December 27, 1991 and took effect on February 13, 1992.

The law reinforces the freedom of information and unacceptability of censorship. It also contains provisions regulating the founding, ownership and use of mass media, and dissemination of information. The law regulates relations between mass media and citizens and/or organisations, determines the rights and obligations of journalists and establishes responsibility for violations of mass media-related laws. The Law on Mass Media allows private broadcasting and limits the rights of foreign individuals to found mass media in Russia.

Satellite television

The first Soviet communication satellite, called Molniya, was launched in 1965. By November, 1967 the national system of satellite television, called Orbita was deployed. The system consisted of 3 highly elliptical Molniya satellites, Moscow-based ground uplink facilities and about 20 downlink stations, located in cities and towns of remote regions of Siberia and Far East. Each station had a 12-meter receiving parabolic antenna and transmitters for re-broadcasting TV signal to local householders.

However, a large part of Soviet central regions were still not covered by transponders of Molniya satellites. By 1976 Soviet engineers developed a relatively simple and inexpensive system of satellite television (especially for Central and Northern Siberia). It included geostationary satellites called Ekran equipped with powerful 300 W UHF transponders, a broadcasting uplink station and various simple receiving stations located in various towns and villages of Siberian region. The typical receiving station, also called Ekran, represented itself as a home-use analog satellite receiver equipped with simple Yagi-Uda antenna. Later, Ekran satellites were replaced by more advanced Ekran-M series satellites.

In 1979 Soviet engineers developed Moskva (or Moscow) system of broadcasting and delivering of TV signal via satellites. New type of geostationary communication satellites, called Gorizont, were launched. They were equipped by powerful onboard transponders, so the size of receiving parabolic antennas of downlink stations was reduced to 4 and 2.5 meters (in comparison of early 12- meter dishes of standard orbital downlink stations).

By 1989 an improved version of Moskva system of satellite television has been called Moskva Global'naya (or Moscow Global). The system included a few geostationary Gorizont and Express type of communication satellites. TV signal from Moscow Global’s satellites could be received in any country of planet except Canada and North-West of the USA.

Modern Russian satellite broadcasting services based on powerful geostationary buses such as Gals (satellite), Ekspress, USP and Eutelsat which provide a large quantity of free-to-air television channels to millions of householders. Pay-TV is growing in popularity amongst Russian TV viewers. The NTV Russia news company, owned by Gazprom, broadcasts the NTV Plus package to 560,000 households, reaching over 1.5 million viewers.[4]

Six out of these seven satellites are new vehicles: four belong to the "Express-AM" family (set into orbit in 2003-2005), and two to the family "Express-A" (set to the orbit in 2000-2002). SESC has also the centre for TV/Radio signal compression, and the formation of transport flows as per the MPEG-2/DVB standard, which ensures the formation of packages from federal TV/ radio channels.

By May 2013, Of the 53 million TV homes in Russia, 24% were equipped for Direct-to-Home satellite reception, making satellite the country’s leading platform for digital television. The number of satellite homes across Russia maintains a strong dynamic, increasing by 25% between 2011 and 2013 from 8 million to 12.6 million. 10% of these homes receive signals from more than one satellite position, taking the total number of antennas to 13.8 million.[5]

Cable television

Cable television introduced in the 2000s, and began growing much in the early 2010s. In the 2010s operators began upgrading their networks to DVB-C and adding new services such as video on demand, catch-up-TV and others. In 2012, cable television accounted for more than half of all pay-TV subscribers (58%).[6]

Distribution of the terrestrial channels

The distribution of the terrestrial channels is the task of the Unitary Enterprise Russian Satellite Communications Company, which has 11 satellites, and the Federal Unitary Enterprise "Russian TV and Radio Broadcasting Network" serving 14,478 TV transmitters in Russia (90.9% of the total number). TV and radio channels are broadcast through the terrestrial satellite communications complexes owned by the Russian Satellite Communications Company at teleports located in Medvezhy Ozera (Russian: Медвежьи озера), Vladimir and Dubna, which ensure the transmission of channels to all five time zones in Russia via the space vehicles of RTRN.

Digital broadcasting

Different alternatives were considered in the process of preparing proposals on shifting the country to digital broadcasting (thematic discussions began in the early 2000s), but the Ministry of IT and Communication decided to focus solely on terrestrial broadcasting as the object of digital TV implementation.[7] In Russia, the first legal act to set the standards for the digital transition was the Government Resolution No. 1700-r of 29 November 2007, which approved a Concept Paper for the Development of TV and Radio Broadcasting in the Russian Federation in 2008-2015. This document was elaborated by the high-level Governmental Commission on Development of TV and Radio Broadcasting originally headed by Dmitry Medvedev in his capacity as first vice-chair of the government.[8]


In December 2005, a project was launched to create a digital television network in the Republic of Mordovia, where the DVB-T standard will be utilised. The project objective was to ensure, for the population, the possibility of receiving a large (up to 10) number of TV channels and several radio stations in the stereo broadcasting mode and in the digital DVB-T standard. The project was implemented by OJSC "Volga Telecom" (a subsidiary of OJSC "Sviazinvest") with support from the Ministry of Information Technologies and Communication of Russia, the Ministry of Culture, the National Association of TV Broadcasters and administration of the Republic of Mordovia.[9]

The transition of terrestrial TV from analogue into digital format (in DVB-T standard) has been announced as being a government priority in Russia and identified in the document Concept of TV Broadcasting Development in Russian Federation within 2008-2015. The main positive factor in the introduction of terrestrial TV broadcasting in DVB-T standard, according to the opinion of market players, has been the approval of a TV broadcasting development framework in the Russian Federation for 2008-2015 (approved by resolution of the RF Government # 1700-p, dated 29 November 2007).[10]

The total investments in the transition of terrestrial TV from analogue into digital format are expected to be Euro 10 billion during the period 2008-2015.

The main factors that have a high positive influence upon the rates of terrestrial DTV introduction tend to be general political and macroeconomic factors. Commercial factors do not have a significant influence upon rates of introduction of digital standards for terrestrial broadcasting. Cable television would gain the largest financial benefits from the introduction of digital television.

On May 10 during Sviaz-Expocomm – 2011, the 23rd International Exhibition of Information Technologies and Communication Services in Moscow, Russia’s national telecommunications operator Svyazinvest, together with Russian Television and Radio Broadcasting Network signed a cooperation agreement to organize the terrestrial transmission of digital content to the RRBN transmitters across the country, thus enabling the broadcasting of eight federal TV channels (Channel One, Russia 1, Russia 24, Russia 2, Russia K, Channel 5, NTV, and Karusel) and one local channel (its "first multiplex" of digital television).[11]

On June 2011 DVB-T2 tests got under way in Moscow. On July 2011 The Russian government commission on the development of TV and radio broadcasting, has supported the Communications and Mass Media Ministry’s suggestion to roll out DVB-T2 test zones, the government’s press service has announced.[12]

On September 2011 a governmental commission had approved the use of the DVB-T2 standard for the development of digital terrestrial TV in Russia, as proposed by the Ministry of Communications. The digital terrestrial TV network is currently being tested out in the Tver region. According to the plan new regional networks will be deployed under the DVB-T2 standard and existing DVB-T networks will be upgraded to the new standard[13]

List of channels

This is a list of television channels that broadcast in Russia. Full list of channels


Name Owner Established Website
Russia 1 VGTRK 1991
Russia K VGTRK 1997
Russia 24 VGTRK 2006
Carousel Channel One Russia and VGTRK 2010
TV Tsentr Moscow Media 1997
Moskva 24 Moscow Media 2011
Moskva Doverie Moscow Media 2006
360 Podmoskovie Podmoskovie Mediagroup 2014
Telekanal Zvezda Ministry of Defence 2005
RT (group of channels) TV-Novosti 2005
Public Television of Russia Russian government 2013
MIR 10 states from CIS 1992
Channel One Russia Russian government (51%), Roman Abramovich (24%), National Media Group (25%) 1995


Name Owner Established Website
NTV Gazprom Media (Gazprombank) 1993
Match TV Gazprom Media (Gazprombank) 2015
TNT Gazprom Media (Gazprombank) 1998
TV3 Gazprom Media (Gazprombank) 1994
Friday! Gazprom Media (Gazprombank) 2013
TNT4 Gazprom Media (Gazprombank) 2016
2x2 Gazprom Media (Gazprombank) 1989
TNT Music Gazprom Media (Gazprombank) 2016
Petersburg - Channel 5 National Media Group 1938
REN TV National Media Group 1997
Life National Media Group (50%) 2013
CTC TV CTC Media (UTV Russia Holding 80%) 1996
Domashniy CTC Media (UTV Russia Holding 80%) 2005
CTC Love CTC Media (UTV Russia Holding 80%) 2014
Che CTC Media (UTV Russia Holding 80%) 2015
Muz-TV UTV Russia Holding 1996
U UTV Russia Holding 2012
Disney Channel (Russia) UTV Russia Holding (80%), The Walt Disney Company (20%) 2011
SPAS Russian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate 2006
FOX Channel 21st Century FOX 2007
FOX LIFE Channel 21st Century FOX 2008
Dozhd Natalia Sindeeva 2010
Nickelodeon Russia Viacom 1998
Discovery Channel Russia Discovery Communications 2006
Animal Planet Russia Discovery Communications 2006
Eurosport Russia Discovery Communications 1996
TLC Russia Discovery Communications 2011
MTV Russia Viacom 1998
Nickelodeon Viacom 2002 http://
Multimania Voxell Baltic 2006
Kinomania Voxell Baltic 2005
BRIDGE TV (music channel) Bridge Media Group 2005
Russian Travel Guide Bridge Media Group 2009
RUSONG TV Bridge Media Group 2010
DANGE TV Bridge Media Group 2013
TV1000 Viasat World 2003
TV1000 Russkoe Kino Viasat World 2005
TV1000 Action East Viasat World 2008
Viasat History Viasat World 2004
Viasat Explorer Viasat World 2003
Viasat Sport East Viasat World 2006
Viasat Golf Viasat World
Viasat Nature Viasat World 2010
TV1000 Comedy HD Viasat World 2012
TV1000 Premium HD Viasat World 2012
TV1000 Megahit HD Viasat World 2012
Europa plus TV EMG (European Media Group) 2011
Ru.TV RMG (Russian Media Group) 2006
O2TV private investors 2004
RTVi private investors 2002
Cartoon Network Turner Broadcasting System 2009
BND Channel One Russia 1990


Name Owner Established Closed
MTK Government of Moscow 1991 1997
Ostankino Channel One RSTRC Ostankino 1991 1995
Ostankino Channel Four RSTRC Ostankino 1991 1994
Rossiyskiye University RSTRC Ostankino and VGTRK 1992 1994
M1 Mediainvest 1994 2005
Channel 24 Kosmos-TV 1994 1999
AMTV Marafon-TV and Moskva-Revyu 1994 1996
TeleExpo Moskomimuschestvo and MosExpo 1995 2001
Prometei AST AST, Gazprom 1998 2002
TV6 MIBC (Moscow Independent Broadcasting Corporation)
(Since 1999 - Boris Berezovsky and Lukoil-Garant)
1993 2002
TVS Media-Sotsium 2002 2003
Sport VGTRK 2003 2009
Russia 2 VGTRK 2010 2015
A-One private investors 2005 2016

Most-viewed channels

Weekly viewing shares, 3–8 March 2015:[14]

Position Channel Group Share of total viewing (%)
1 Channel One Government of Russia (75%), National Media Group (25%) 15.3
2 Russia 1 VGTRK (state-owned) 12.6
3 NTV Gazprom-Media (Gazprombank) 10.0
4 TNT Gazprom-Media (Gazprombank) 6.4
5 Channel 5 National Media Group (72%) 5.9
6 CTC CTC Media (MTG 37,94%; National Media Group 25,01%) 4.4
7 REN TV National Media Group 3.6
8 TV Center Moscow-Media (state-owned) 3.2
9 Russia-24 VGTRK 3.2
10 TV3 Gazprom-Media (Gazprombank) 2.9

See also


  1. Oates, p.128
  2. Broadcast media CIA World Factbook
  3. "19.8 Coverage by TV broadcasting". Federal Statistics Service. 2008.
  4. "Broadband TV News | Central and East Europe | Home". Archived from the original on 2008-06-16. Retrieved 2008-09-06.
  5. "Russia's leading satellite TV neighbourhood at 36° East reaches record audience and prepares for new growth" (PDF). Eutelsat Communications. Retrieved 11 June 2013.
  6. Robert Briel. "Pay-TV in Russia to reach 74% in 2017". Broadband TV News. Retrieved 7 March 2015.
  7. HDTV and the Transition to Digital Broadcasting: Understanding New Television Technologies, Philip J. Cianci
  8. Concept of development of TV and radio broadcasting in Russian Federation in 2008-2015 (Концепция развития телерадиовещания в Российской Федерации на 2008 — 2015 годы)
  9. Groteck Co., Ltd for the European Audiovisual Observatory
  10. The European Audiovisual Observatory
  11. Rostelecom’s backbone network to transmit digital TV content across Russia
  12. "News - DVB". Retrieved 7 March 2015.
  13. Russian govt approves DVB-T2 standard, 26 September 2011, DVB Worldwide
  14. "Данные по аудитории". TNS Russia. Retrieved 12 March 2015.

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