When Pravda and Izvestia were forced to give way to the open
competition of a ’free’ media industry at the beginning of the decade,
few would have predicted that another newspaper bearing the namesake
pravda (meaning ’truth’) would establish itself as leader in the field
within a few short years.
However, while the mouthpiece of the Communist Party has sunk into
oblivion, Komsolskaya Pravda (no relation), has rocketed to the top of
the charts in Russia, becoming the fifth biggest daily seller in Europe
in the process.
The black-and-white publication comes in three editions: an eight-page
national daily, a thicker national weekly and a special Moscow
Like most papers in Russia, Komsolskaya Pravda belongs to one of the
major banks, in this case, UnExim. Owned by the tycoon, Vladimir
Potanin, the giant export-import conglomerate is clearly established
within the reformist wing of Russian economic and political circles,
but, despite this, the paper’s focus is not overtly political. Instead,
Komsolskaya Pravda delivers a diet of gossip, political intrigue and
showbiz tittle-tattle as part of a format that has proved extremely
popular with Russians, and is borne out by circulation figures.
The daily sells 1,400,000 copies per day, the national weekly,
2,900,000, and the Moscow weekly, 134,000. Not surprisingly, most of
Komsolskaya Pravda’s revenue is generated from sales rather than
advertising, although Western companies such as Samsung and Hitachi are
often to be seen alongside local advertisers. The daily edition costs
R1,500 roubles (approximately 13 pence) which, given that the official
average income of Russians is approximately pounds 82 per month, can be
a substantial outlay.
And who reads Komsolskaya Pravda? That same ordinary Russian, it would
seem. The readership is made up of average-income earners with a state
education. Just under 55 per cent are women and the greatest number of
readers are in the 16-34 age bracket (37 per cent). Interestingly, in
the home of the old intelligentsia, Moscow’s weekly edition, with its
emphasis on showbiz and gossip, attracts a far larger proportion of
higher income readers (30 per cent) than any of its sister editions.
Circulation (daily) 1.4m
Circulation (weekly) 2.9m
Circulation (Moscow weekly) 134,000
Readers aged 16-34 37%