Government information contracts and their importance for Russian regional media markets
Keywords:mass media, Russian regions, media system, post-Soviet period, state contracts, regional disproportions, state support for mass media
AbstractThe study investigates the phenomenon of state information contracts as part of Russian regional media market. Economic and political prerequisites for the appearance of state information contracts are shown. The theoretical part of the study includes the contracting specifics as a form of interaction between the state and regional mass media in Russia. Media market that functions according to commercial logic needs government intervention to eliminate a «failure» related to thematically inhomogeneous media space. Using the contracting procedure the authorities support non-rated topics that serve public objectives. A quantitative analysis of information contracts across four regions was made; the contracts were distributed and analyzed according to contract price, type of customers, contractors and media as well as topics. The authors conclude that government contracts are not the best way to mitigate negative externalities and reduce media market failure referring to thematically inhomogeneous coverage. Government contracts that aim at avoiding imbalance in reality are nothing but a tool to spread the information about regional and municipal authorities. Besides that, non-competitive bidding observed in the studied regions gives suggestions about collusive corruption.