Government advertising allocations are an important means of influencing content in Russia, and most media businesses remain dependent on state subsidies and government printing, distribution, and transmission facilities, Freedom House reported in 2015. In addition, private businesses are reported to be reluctant to place advertisements with outlets that are not favorable to the government.
In July 2014, Putin signed a series of amendments to the federal law on advertising that, beginning in January 2015, would ban satellite and cable channels from carrying commercial advertising if they also charge viewers a subscription fee. Stations with terrestrial broadcasting licenses would be exempt from the ban, meaning it would seriously damage the financial viability of Dozhd, foreign content providers, and many other services, but not the dominant progovernment channels.
Dozhd (Rain), often described as Russia’s only independent television news outlet, faced increased interference in response to its content during 2014. In January, the station came under fire from authorities after it conducted a website poll asking readers whether the Soviet army should have surrendered the city of Leningrad to German invaders during World War II rather than resisting a lengthy siege that cost nearly a million civilian lives. The state telecommunications regulator, Roskomnadzor, began an investigation into the incident, and within days the major satellite providers in Russia began to drop Dozhd from their subscription packages, reportedly under pressure from the Kremlin. In March, Dozhd general director Natalya Sindeyeva announced that the station was insolvent, although it managed to continue operating through the end of the year. A number of observers alleged that the government’s campaign against the broadcaster was actually motivated by its critical reports on other topics, including corruption and human rights abuses surrounding the Sochi Olympics.
Source: Freedom of the Press Index 2015 – Russia