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Age Restrictions for Russian Media
September 4, 2012 11:31

Legal departments of the Russian media are having a hard time – and all because of children. The new law, which took effect on September 1, 2012, is aimed at protecting them by forcing newspapers, magazines, TV and radio stations, and online outlets to self-censor their content.

According to the ‘Law on the protection of children from information harmful to their health and development’ No. 436, approved by the State Duma in December 2010 and signed into law by the president in early 2011, the media will now have to give age-appropriate ratings – 0+, 6+, 12+, 16+, and 18+. The first four of them apply to:

  • scenes of cruelty or violence, or crime;
  • scenes causing panic, fear or horror, including humiliating scenes or descriptions of unintended death, disease, suicide, accident, disaster or their aftermath;
  • scenes or descriptions of sexual relations between men and women;
  • information that contains swear words which are not considered to be obscene language.

The 18+ sign means that what you are going to see right now is strictly for adults. If the media has something of this kind in their programming, they will have to move such content to a different time slot between 11 p.m. and 4 a.m. This applies to information that:

  • compels minors to commit suicide or other harmful actions;
  • promotes the use of drugs, tobacco, liquor or beer;
  • compels minors engage in gambling, prostitution, begging or vagrancy;
  • compel minors to do violent or cruel actions towards people or animals;
  • denies family values and respect for parents or other members of the family;
  • justifies delinquent behaviour;
  • contains obscene language or scenes of pornography.

Television stations shall put on screens a symbol of a size of their logo for at least 8 seconds while the printed media shall bear a similar symbol or a written warning on its front page. Online news outlets shall either tag their main page or the specific sections which fall under the operation of the new law. Radio stations shall run an audio warning four times a day and also play a warning each time before a potentially harmful song goes on air.

The requirement, however, does not apply to printed political newspapers and magazines, wires of news agencies, live television broadcasting, advertising, scientific publications, and information that has significant historical, artistic or cultural value to society.

Asked about user-generated content on forum pages of the media, head of Russia’s communications watchdog (Roskomnadzor), Alexander Zharov said that the outlets will have 24 hours to delete any forbidden comments or face a penalty. According to him, there is much chaos and uncertainty at the moment in terms of marking rules, but he is planning a review as early as October.

Zharov also said that his agency is going to table new proposals to the State Duma on the penalties against obscene language in the media.

To get acquainted with the full version of the new law and to get a translation of the document, email Russia-IC.

Author: Mikhail Vesely

Tags: Russian law Russian Internet State Duma   

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