Law amendments on advertising in Russia further endanger media pluralism and free flow of information, says OSCE representative
VIENNA, 7 July 2014 – OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Dunja Mijatović today expressed concern about proposed amendments to the Russian law on advertising, which would prohibit commercials on private pay television channels.
“I call on President of the Russian Federation to veto this unduly and restrictive measure. If implemented these amendments could lead to cutting off private small- and medium-scale channels from their principal source of revenue which is advertising. That could further limit media pluralism and free flow of information in Russia”, Mijatović said.
On 4 July the State Duma of the Russian Federation approved amendments to the law on advertising. If implemented, commercials on pay television channels will be prohibited if the channels do not hold a terrestrial broadcasting licence or are not on the list of must-carry programmes. According to estimates, there are roughly 150 private television channels in Russia which may be forced to shut down as a result of the amendments.
Mijatović questioned the Russian legislators’ justification of the amendments with the need to stop unfair competition on the market, where the pay channels supposedly benefit from mixed funding schemes (subscription fees and commercials) while the open access channels do not have such a privilege.
"States should avoid overregulating the media market as that effectively hampers competition and leads to undue media concentration in the hands of few, including the state broadcasting monopolies,” Mijatović said.
Mijatović noted that the proposed amendments would also negatively affect media plurality with the coming digital switchover, when hundreds of regional broadcasters will lose their terrestrial licences and, under the amendment, there will be no economic rationale to broadcast in cable systems or even online.
The OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media observes media developments in all 57 OSCE participating States. She provides early warning on violations of freedom of expression and media freedom and promotes full compliance with OSCE media freedom commitments. Learn more at www.osce.org/fom, Twitter: @OSCE_RFoM and on facebook.com/osce.rfom.