Restrictions on foreign ownership in Russian media outlets will make it possible to protect the national sovereignty of the country, the deputy speaker of the State Duma told reporters on Tuesday.
He was commenting on an initiative by a group of lower house deputies from the Liberal Democratic Party, A Just Russia Party and the Communist Party who initiated on Wednesday a bill limiting the share in Russian media for foreign nationals and organizations to 20%.
The proposed bill “aims first of all to ensure information sovereignty of Russia and decrease outside influence on developments in the country, which is undoubtedly vital in present-day international conditiond and an information war launched against our country”, said Sergey Zheleznyak, deputy secretary of the ruling United Russia Party’s General Council.
Under the proposed bill, foreign legal entities or individuals, as well as people without citizenship and with dual citizenship will be banned from founding media outlets in Russia.
Journalists support the initiative
The head of Moscow’s Union of Journalists, Pavel Gusev, on Wednesday supported lawmakers’ proposal to limit the share of foreign stakeholders in Russia mass media to no more than 20%. “Given the situation Russia is in, this is quite an appropriate measure and it can provide a real way to ensure information security of the country,” Gusev said.
He urged the authorities, at the same time, to support Russian media with no foreign shareholders. “They need more preferences and possibilities for financial development,” he said.
Gusev said many Russian media had been put in a tight situation by advertising restrictions and dwindling subscription rates.
Earlier in the day, a group of lawmakers proposed a 20% restriction on foreign ownership in Russian media from January 1, 2016. The current limit is 50% and applies only to television and radio.