Rain TV, the independent online broadcaster that is famed as a favourite among Russia's liberal opposition, will cease to be available for free. In a press conference yesterday, general director Natalia Sindeyeva announced that as of 23 September all the channel's programming, with the exception of news, would be accessible only to subscribers. Subscription will be on a monthly or annual basis.
Sindeyeva described the move as an attempt to encourage a culture in which viewers “are prepared to pay for quality legal content”. Introducing a paywall has long been part of Rain TV's development plans. In December 2012 Sindeyeva said: “It's a big risk — we could lose traffic, audience. But we think if we are talking about stable growth, this is the only way to do it.”
Rain TV (known as Dozhd in Russian) has been broadcasting live online since 2010. Describing itself as the “optimistic channel”, it covers news and analysis, often from a liberal perspective. It came to global prominence for its coverage of anti-government protests in late 2011.