Russian deputies submitted on Wednesday amendments to the mass media law seeking to forbid foreigners to own more than 20% in domestic mass media, both directly and indirectly, business newspaper RBC Daily reported Thursday.
The amendments were presented to the State Duma, the parliament’s lower house, by deputies Vadim Dengin from the Liberal Democratic Political Party (LDRP), Vladimir Parakhin from the Just Russia party and Denis Voronenkov from the Communist Party (KPRF).
At present, a foreign legal entity or a Russian legal entity, in which a foreign firm owns 50% and more, are not authorized to set up television and radio channels. They must not act as founders of Russian companies, if they broadcast in more than a half of the country’s 85 regions. The bans concern foreign citizens or the Russians with dual citizenship.
The deputies propose to expand the restrictions on all mass media, thus the bans may concern periodical printed and online editions.
The main novelty in the amendments is the ban for foreigners to own over 20% in Russian mass media, manage them or control directly and indirectly. The current law allows vicarious ownership by foreigners of television and radio companies through a chain of Russian legal entities.
The probability of adoption of the amendments is very high, according to a source close to the State Duma’s high-ranking officials.
At present, only two foreign investors work in the Russian terrestrial television: Sweden’s Modern Times Group, which owns 37.9% in Russian television holding CTC Media, and the US’ Walt Disney Co., which bought 49% of the Semyorka channel in 2011 and calibrated it into the Disney channel.
Much more foreign broadcasters are in the thematic television sphere, which uses both cable and satellite means. There are Russian-speaking versions of channels of such companies as Discovery Communications, Viacom and Entertainment Television.