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New Prohibition or Foreign Ownership in the Russian Media
September 21, 2014 13:55


The bill limiting the participation of foreigners in the Russian mass media will be adopted quickly and unaltered, as several deputies say. It will not radically change the situation for the foreign owners of the Russian mass media, as the interlocutors of RBC in the parliament and the executive government say.

On Friday, September 19, the Committee of the State Duma on Information Policy will discuss the recently introduced bill prohibiting foreign ownership of shares exceeding 20% in the Russian media. Already on the day of the document’s publication - on Wednesday – the paper was sent to the concerned departments (this was the preliminary stage of the bill consideration).

The first reading of the bill is scheduled for September 23, as several members of the committee claim to know. The law in general can also be adopted by a simplified procedure, such possibility cannot be excluded. At that, the text of the bill has been absent in the Duma base until last night.

The bill introduced by the deputies of opposition factions - Vadim Dengin from the Liberal Democratic Party, the “Social Revolutionary” Vladimir Parakhin and the Communist Denis Voronenkov, limits the maximum possible share of foreign participation in all Russian mass media by the 20% level.

Now foreigners are only allowed to establish TV and radio channels in Russia. The document has already been publicly supported by the United Russia party, including the chairman of the State Duma Sergei Naryshkin and the Deputy Speaker of the House, the member of the Committee on Information Policy Sergey Zheleznyak.

Their support shows that the bill will be adopted quickly, as several deputies of United Russia interviewed by RBC believe. The First Deputy Chairman of the Committee on Information Policy Leonid Levin (actually he is the acting chairman of the committee in the absence of Alexei Mitrofanov undergoing medical treatment abroad) also supports the initiative: such rules are already observed by other countries, as he said to RBC.

The majority of the beneficiaries of the Russian mass media are Russian businessmen owning offshore companies, nothing prevents them from re-registering their media in Russia, he explained. International companies “must be sympathetic to possible changes in the law”: Russian businessmen also cannot buy a controlling stake of an American TV channel, he said. At the same time, we did not speak of the mandatory sale of Russian media assets by foreign companies, Levin noted.

Such laws are often adopted in a strict mode, but some of the rules are mitigated at the stage of the law adoption, the federal official says. But in this case there will be no mitigation, according to the information of another interviewee of RBC close to the leadership of the State Duma. The law should be adopted in its original form, he stressed. The interlocutors of RBC say that they do not understand what “legal forms” should be sought by foreign investors. According to one of them, if we are really speaking about the limitation of the foreigners’ access to the mass media management, then we need to start with the dismissal of expatriates.

Author: Anna Dorozhkina

Tags: Russian media     

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