Watch Live TV from Russia

Television is the most popular medium in Russia, with 74% of the population watching national television channels routinely and 59% routinely watching regional channels. There are 3300 television channels in total. 3 channels have a nationwide outreach (over 90% coverage of the Russian territory): Channel One, Russia-1 and NTV. Between 1941 and 1945 all television broadcasts in the nation were interrupted because of Nazi Germany's invasion of the Soviet Union. During these early years, most television programs were about life in the Soviet Union, cultural activities and sports.

In 1960 a second national television channel was established. This initial expansion of activity encompassed mostly the city of Moscow, but to a lesser extent also Leningrad, the Urals, Siberia and the Ukrainian SSR. Each republic, area or region had its own television station. In the 1970s and 1980s, television become the preeminent mass medium. In 1988 approximately 75 million households owned television sets, and an estimated 93 percent of the population watched television. Moscow, the base from which most of the television stations broadcast, transmitted some 90 percent of the country's programs, with the help of more than 350 stations and nearly 1,400 relay facilities.

Censorship and self-censorship

Since 2012 – the beginning of Vladimir Putin's third presidential term, numerous laws have been passed to make censorship and extensive surveillance easier. Such measures also led to self-censorship. A 2016 report by PEN America shows that limitations of freedom of expression in today's Russia do not affect only journalism and media, but the overall cultural space. According to the report, a confluence of laws aimed at contrasting terrorism and religious hatred and protecting children have led to an environment in which is increasingly hard to distribute fiction, broadcast independent television and promote independent theatre and music productions. In addition, the selectivity and, at times, arbitrariness of Roskomnadzor, the Federal Service for Supervision of Communications, Information Technology, and Mass Media, create uncertainty for writers, authors, publishers and other media producers, which often results in self-censorship as a way to avoid uncertain rules and arbitrary enforcement.

Also, according to the 2016 Freedom House's report on freedom of the press, government officials frequently use the country's politicized and corrupt court system to harass journalists and bloggers who expose abuses by authorities. In the Russian legal system the definition of extremistm is broad and this make possible for officials to invoke it to silence critical voices. Enforcement of such legal provisions has encouraged self-censorship in the country.

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