Pavel Gusev, the head of the Moscow Union of Journalists and editor-in-chief of the newspaper Moskovsky Komsomolets, believes up to 20 percent publications may cease to exist by the end of 2015 due to badly thought-out state decisions and laws in the sphere of the mass media.
"Trust me, 20 percent of the existing media organizations will die by the end of this year. Maybe a little more, but not less. They will be gone for good," Gusev told a press conference at the Department of Journalism of Moscow State University on Friday.
"You can't go overboard and put market priorities following this or that law or an official's decision," he said. "It's horrible and dangerous," he said.
Some 100 amendments that fully destroy the system of the law on the mass media were submitted in the past 3.5 years alone, Gusev said.
"I mean the democratic law that was adopted in 1991, which Russia should be proud of. Many amendments were adopted and they worked. We did a lot in the Public Chamber and the media community, we tried to reason with the legislators, we told they 'What are you guys doing? You are breaking the chair you are sitting on,'" Gusev said.
Gusev said people who read the traditional media go to elections and vote for the current administration, but this sector of the mass media is currently being destroyed.
"It once took us a lot of effort to convince them to give a subsidy to Russian Post to support subscription. We were given 4.5 billion. And subscription was supported. What's now? A year ago they took the subsidy away and subscription dropped 20.1 percent nationwide. In many regions, subscription dropped 80-90 percent, destroying many regional newspapers, which only lived by subscription. What for? Why? You can't find 4.5 billion rubles? Don' make me laugh. Look at what money is being spent on," Gusev said.
Up to 40 percent press newsstands closed in the past 1.5 years, Gusev said.
"It's deliberate destruction of the press. In the past year alone, up to 60 percent of the country's small businesses were destroyed as a result of the adoption by the State Duma of tax amendments. They were the foundation of newspapers' advertising revenues. Then they started fighting biologically active dietary supplements. Twenty-percent of the advertising market left after the publication of biologically active dietary supplements was banned. What's next? Beer, which is now back. We tried to convince them to talk to us and meet with the media market. No one hears us," Gusev said.
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