Russian media eyes Indian expertise, investment

February 10th, 2008 - 10:11 am ICT by admin  

Moscow, Feb 10 (IANS) Big names in the Russian media will head to Goa in October in a bid to attract Indian investment and create a more positive image about their country.

The conference will be held some time in October at Leela Palace Hotel in Goa. Top Russian and Indian media groups will be present at this conference,” Alexander Gorbenko, director general of Rossiiskaya Gazeta, Russia’s state-owned newspaper, told a visiting IANS correspondent.

It’s important to bring together the media and business elites of the two countries. Russia has a great interest in developing relations with India,” said Gorbenko.

The media conference will help reposition Russia in India and attract Indian investment,” he said in his plush office housed in an imposing Soviet-style building from where Pravda, a once-upon-a-time Communist gospel, is still brought out by the old faithful who feel displaced in a new Russia.

The Gazeta is an independent paper except for government documents which are published in it, asserted Gorbenko. It has a daily circulation of 300,000 copies with the sales surging to 3.5 million copies for its weekend editions.

In the last eight years since Vladimir Putin became president, the media landscape in Russia has changed dramatically, with old media empires owned by oligarchs giving way to new business-savvy publications.

Russia is open to foreign investment, including Indian investment, in the media,” underlined Gorbenko.

In the print media, there is no restriction on foreign investment. In the electronic media only, foreign investment can’t exceed 50 percent,” he said.

To make his point, he alluded to a joint project between The Financial Times, The Wall Street Journal and Independent Media, the largest Russian publishing house, to bring out Vedomosti, a Russian business daily that is a big draw with the business elite of the country.

Foreign investment is steadily flowing into an otherwise tightly state-controlled media. Many journalists complain of constant intrusions from the Kremlin, but that hasn’t stopped the proliferation of newspapers, TV channels and radio stations.

Last year, the publishing house Axel Springer started Forbes, Newsweek Russia and Wallpaper in Russia.

And since the Finnish company Sanoma Magazines bought over the Independent Media publishing house, collaborative publications by Izvestia and the New York Times and by The Moscow Times and the International Herald Tribune are finding new readers.

By autumn, Russian versions of The Economist (in collaboration with Independent Media) and Business Week (a Rodionov publishing house project) are likely to hit the shelves.

Predictably, Gorbenko brushed off reports of censorship and state controls in Russia. Instead he spoke about a new project to create a positive image of a resurgent Russia through special inserts in leading world dailies like Britain’s The Telegraph, The Washington Post of the US and The Economic Times in India.

The government is planning to create a special structure that will aim at creating a positive image of Russia abroad and attracting foreign investment,” he said.

He underlined the resolve of the powers-that-be in Russia to market a new Russia.

It’s important to build a relationship at the level of the media. We haven’t learnt to present ourselves in a beautiful way as the Americans do,” he said as if mocking a report by the Committee to Protect Journalists that named Russia as the third deadliest country for journalists, after Iraq and Algeria.

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