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Mijatović welcomes eased restrictions for commercial television channels in Russia, reiterate call for complete lifting of ban

 

OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Dunja Mijatović said she welcomed the softened restrictions for commercials on pay television channels, but she also reiterated her call ending the ban completely.

On 27 January the State Duma adopted a bill easing the restrictions for commercials for pay cable and satellite television channels that broadcast 75 percent Russian content. The existing ban, introduced on 1 January 2015, prohibits commercials on pay television channels if the channels do not hold a terrestrial broadcasting license or are not on the list of must-carry programs.

“While I welcome the lifting of the recent ban, this does not change the fact that foreign channels that rely on advertising will continue to be de facto barred from cable television in Russia,” Mijatović said.

The Representative raised her concern about the ban last July and questioned the Russian legislators’ justification of the amendments. The legislators referred to 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.

“Today the rules are indeed comforted for Russian local and niche channels, but still negatively affect media plurality,” Mijatović said. “I urge the State Duma to continue to ease legal restrictions on media outlets in order to support media plurality.”


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