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How not to extinguish Iskra

The government initiative can leave people in information isolation

How not to extinguish Iskra

The Russian "hinterland" (and this is almost half of the country), where the Internet has not yet completely taken root, is connected with the outside world through television and newspapers. In the context of globalization, state subsidies help print media in the context of globalization to convey information to remote corners of our country, which they plan to cancel in 2015. How this initiative will affect the participants of the print market - readers, publishers and Russian Post - says Maria Khristoforova, General Director of Sitim Media Group LLC.

- Maria, Minister of Finance of the Russian Federation Anton Siluanov recently stated that in the budget for 2015 year subsidies for the transportation of subscription publications are being lifted. How will the subsidy be affected by the audience?

- To begin with - imagine: Yakutia is more than 3 million square kilometers inhabited by just over one million people. Of these, 15% - and these are 150 thousands of people - live in isolation from reliable transport infrastructure. These are cities, towns and villages, hundreds of kilometers away from each other and connected by seasonal roads. The Internet, wherever there is, is expensive, so print media play a huge role in informing the public, as well as in education and education. For example, residents improve the Yakut language largely due to the national newspaper “Kyym”, which reaches almost every family in remote areas of our republic. Now the circulation of the newspaper is 30 thousand copies and kept at such a high level mainly due to the subscription.

The abolition of subsidies will lead to stagnation - subscription prices will be prohibitive for the population. We will lose a substantial portion of the subscription, and this will be a blow to the publishing business. And the people who are now due to these subsidies have access to the entire range of print media, will remain altogether in isolation from what is happening around.

- It turns out, publishers are waiting for the best of times?

- Yes, many regional publishers will not survive in conditions of a significant reduction in circulation. Media group Sitim today publishes 5 newspapers and 5 magazines, and also owns three Internet resources in Russian and Yakut languages. The total one-time circulation of our publications is about 100 thousand copies, and according to this indicator we are among the leaders in the Far East. Subscription to our publications occupies 41% (37% of newspapers, 49% of magazines) from all republican subscription to periodical press. It will be very difficult for us if the subscription falls.

But it will be even more difficult for us to explain to our readers why prices for publications, which they have been accustomed to read for years, suddenly rose sharply.

Particularly difficult will be the situation in the context of publications in the national language. Today in the Yakut language, the newspaper KYYM (Iskra) is the legendary brand, which will soon turn 95 years old, and two children's editions, a magazine and a newspaper. Basically, our subscribers are families who immediately order all three editions. I believe that this is evidence of the key role of our publishing house in preserving the language and culture. And the problem I see is that our readers simply will not have an alternative, if suddenly our editions turn out to be too expensive for them.

- How will the cancellation of subsidies affect the work of the Post of Russia?

- In our region, where there are huge distances between settlements, Pochta Rossii already today covers its losses at the expense of subscribers. The cost of postal services in Yakutia for periodicals from the second half of the year, 2013, has risen sharply, by more than 30 percent. If 5 years ago the state-allocated subsidies to 3 billion rubles fully covered the losses of Post, then now only 53% of losses.

If these subsidy funds are now redirected to salary increases for postmen (as it is planned), subscription prices that do not have these subsidies will rise sharply. This is the reverse effect. It's very similar to Trishkin's caftan. Moreover, according to the statement of the "Post of Russia", even taking into account state subsidies, the company's loss from delivering subscription circulations was up to 3 billion per year.

There are questions not only from the publishers for the Post. In Yakutia, the delivery of correspondence (including print media) is performed with great criticism — not in a timely manner. Even with two own cargo aircraft for air delivery to the Arctic regions, mail arrives at receivers with a delay of 2 to 4 weeks. Since it accumulates on the sorting unit to the volume necessary for transportation - 10 tons! With the existing volumes of mail traffic to the Arctic regions - just 2 – 4 of the week, these 10 tons are accumulating.

- What, in your opinion, is the solution to the problem?

- For regional periodicals, especially those published in the Far East and Siberia, subsidies should be maintained. And that's fine. Let me remind you that in many countries there are government subsidies for subscriptions, which, by the way, are higher than in our country. In Russia, subsidies for 1 are subscription editions of 0,07, in the USA - 0,15, Great Britain 0,6, in Italy 1,7 dollars.

If our state refuses the minimum that we have now, we will not only step into the past, but also lose politically. The loss of readership is the loss of interaction within our society, the total isolation of those who live in hard-to-reach areas. 

But our country carries north to the coal, and diesel fuel, and food. Huge subsidies go to the energy sector - no one even stutters about shifting the cost of electricity to local residents - and rightly so, the same will be released for 30-40 rubles per kilowatt! 

Kilowatts, heat and hot water - this is the first necessity. Information - too. Therefore, if in a remote village someone expresses a desire to subscribe to the media, he should be able to get a publication at an affordable price, and it is perfectly reasonable that the delivery will be compensated by the state.

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