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Working meeting with Minister of Communications and Mass Media Igor Shchegolev

August 10, 2011, Sochi

The Minister briefed the President on the work to develop Russia’s digital broadcasting network.

Dmitry Medvedev announced at the meeting the signing of a number of executive orders concerning publication of information on state ministries’ and agencies’ work on the internet. The President also instructed Mr Shchegolev to monitor the publication by state bodies of reports on their work on the internet.

* * *

President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: Mr Shchegolev, the first thing I want to discuss with you is that I signed a large number of executive orders today – 19 of them – on publication by state ministries and agencies, above all those under the President, of online information on their activities. This includes information on their decisions, the rules and regulations they draft and approve, the various matters under their responsibility, civil servants and their incomes, and information on various other matters.

The information specified in these executive orders must be made publicly available online so as to make it open to the broadest section possible of our society. I want your ministry to take charge of monitoring this information environment, not even so much in terms of content, as in terms of genuinely ensuring this public access. After all, your ministry is responsible for developing communications in our country, and I think this is an important part of it all, I mean these guarantees that our people have access to information on the federal authorities and what they are doing. That is the first matter I wanted to bring to your attention.

Second, we have been working on developing digital television broadcasting in our country for a while now, and have approved the decisions and the relevant project concept that is now being carried out. What has been done so far?

Minister of Communications and Mass Media Igor Shchegolev: Regarding the first matter, the government commission on developing information technology in the state agencies has indeed heard regular reports from the various particular agencies, and we have put together a sort of internal rating that will soon be made public and will give people the chance to evaluate and compare the different agencies.

Of course, the executive orders you just signed are needed so that we can evaluate the agencies according to set criteria and get a clear picture of what they are doing in each of the categories covered by the orders’ provisions, how conscientiously they are carrying out this work, and how regularly and fully they provide the relevant information. We already have some preliminary approaches for making these ratings that we examined at the commission, but these executive orders will of course make this monitoring process more effective.

At the same time, we have put in place an additional mechanism that began working in full this year, namely, coordination of the state agencies’ spending. In other words, we examine exactly how the state agencies have spent the money allocated to these purposes, including money for creating such websites, and evaluate how effectively these funds were spent, and whether there has been a duplication, in order to identify and replicate the best decision models and thereby optimise this spending. 

As for the second matter, seeing as we here in the south, I can tell you that we will be finishing work soon on a large antenna that has undergone reconstruction in Krasnodar, and we plan to use it to start broadcasting the first digital television package by the end of the year.

Dmitry Medvedev: Where is this taking place, in Krasnodar itself?

Igor Shchegolev: Yes, in Krasnodar itself. Furthermore, we are about to start work on reconstructing the antenna in Sochi too. The antenna here is rather old, but we plan to upgrade it by optimising the devices installed on it – not just television antennas, but also radio, cell communication, and various other devices too. New technology now makes it possible to install lighter antennas, and so the structure will be able to withstand these additions. We plan to install new equipment there too, which will make digital broadcasting possible among other things.

Overall, the region is very complex in its terrain, but we hope to have 100 or 99 percent of the territory covered within a few years, by the end of stage five of the planned work, and as for the 2011–2012 period, we plan to have a stable signal covering 77 percent of the region’s territory.

Dmitry Medvedev: What will this offer the people living in this 77 percent of the region’s territory, and the people in the other parts of our country where digital broadcasting is starting up?

Igor Shchegolev: It already gives them a higher quality of the eight digital channels already in operation. Of course, once the approval procedures are completed, a regional channel will start operation too. In parallel, we will be able to install on this new network, which will be comprised mostly of new installations, several hundred of them (as compared to the few dozens we have now), a second multiplex system that will enable people to receive a couple of dozen channels. 

Dmitry Medvedev: When will this second package start operation?

Igor Shchegolev: We will work region by region, starting next year, as the networks allow, gradually introducing the second package of channels.

Dmitry Medvedev: Do our people have the possibility of getting connected to the network now, I mean, are the connection devices available already?

Igor Shchegolev: Yes, they can be purchased through the retail networks. Of course, if we want to actively promote this programme we must guarantee a high quality and stable signal. In particular, we have already built many networks in the Far East. I expect soon, this very month in fact, to be able to report on the fulfilment of your instruction to build networks on Sakhalin and the Kuril Islands.

Networks have already been built and are in operation in some regions there. There is a problem with the satellite signal, but the satellite that will cover this region will be launched from Baikonur in 10 days time. After that, I will go to the Far East, visit Sakhalin, the Kuril Islands, and Kamchatka, and report on how the work is going.

Dmitry Medvedev: Yes, definitely do this, because although these are remote parts of our country, the people there are just as much our citizens and must not have the feeling of being cut off from our general information space.

Coming back to the first matter, the 19 executive orders, I want you and the other government ministers to ensure that this work goes ahead in full. In other words, people who want to get information on the activities of whichever state agency, from the Defence Ministry to the intelligence services (within the limits of the law, of course), can use this service and get official information online.

Igor Shchegolev: We will work on this through the commission and keep track of it together with our colleagues, and will update you regularly on how the work to implement these executive orders is going. 

Dmitry Medvedev: Good.

August 10, 2011, Sochi