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Buzz Barometer: Foreign Media Ownership Law Under Fire
September 29, 2014 20:29

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The general tone has been critical, with all the titles highlighting the isolationist trend in the Kremlin’s policies.
Bloomberg says the new law is “increasing pressure on independent publications in an industry where state control has grown”.
It also quotes Igor Bunin, head of the Moscow-based Center for Political Technologies, who said: “The law reflects a siege mentality – there are enemies seeking to encourage a ‘Russian spring’ and they must be shut down”. “Foreigners are basically urged to sell out of Russian media by 2017,” he added.
Vasily Gatov, an influential figure in the media industry and former vice president of the Guild of Periodic Press Publishers, told Bloomberg that Russian authorities want “to scare away any uncontrolled contender from buying Vedomosti.”
Bloomberg recalls previous bills, including the one that forced “bloggers with at least 3,000 daily readers to register with the authorities” while in June 2014 the parliament banned advertising on pay-television channels.
One of the victims of the new legislation is CTC Media, a major media holding co-owned by Swedish MTG.
“The law, if passed with the current wording, will create legal complications for us and our shareholders,” Yuliana Slashcheva, CEO of publicly-traded CTC Media Inc. (CTCM).
The Washington Post also points out that the law has far-ranging consequences for every type of media, no matter how innocent their content might seem.
“An amendment seeking to make an exemption for non-political media, such as sports and advertising TV channels, was rejected during Friday’s debate,” writes the US newspaper.
RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty shows the dispirited mood at Vedomosti, Russia’s leading business daily.
"Everyone is, of course, dispirited," says Tatyana Lysova, the newspaper's editor in chief. "This bill itself is groundless, harmful, and demonstrates a mistrust of us. It, of course, creates uncertainty. We don't know where our publication will be in a year and who it will belong to. In such circumstances, it is difficult to remain enthusiastic, hopeful, or positive."
RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty reminds that just this month, Vedomosti marked 15 years since it was founded as a joint venture between the Financial Times, The Wall Street Journal, and Sanoma Independent Media.
The Guardian has a critical piece on the issue, too, noting that independent editors and publishers are certain the bill will “further reduce the diversity of opinion in the Russian media”.
The British outlet quotes Russian Forbes editor Elmar Murtazayev as saying that “the publication would probably close if the law passed, since its German parent company Axel Springer did not want to sell it to a Russian owner.
“Murtazayev argued that the legislation was partly meant as retaliation to US and EU sanctions against Russia, since it would hurt mainly western companies. It would also allow Russian players to gain control of lucrative glossy magazine advertising”, he added.


Author: Mikhail Vesely

Tags: Russian media Russian law Vedomosti   

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