Russia to issue new TV licences

Sergey Sitnikov, head of Russia’s media regulator (Roskomnadzor), says new “universal” ten year TV (and radio and Internet) licences will be issued later this year or early in 2012, states Russia’s Interfax in a report carried by BBC Monitoring.

“Universal licences will start being granted as soon as changes are made to legislation on the media,” Sitnikov told journalists on 17 May. He added that there has already been an attempt to change the law on the media, and that [draft] law is now being refined. “I think that these amendments will be adopted if not late this year, then in the first half of next year, and the legislation will start to operate, including with reference to universal licences,” the head of Roskomnadzor said.

In February, the State Duma adopted in its first reading a draft law which provides for the introduction of universal licences for television and radio broadcasting, and also reinforces the procedure for the licensing of television and radio broadcasting at the level of a law.

Under the draft law “On the introduction of changes to individual acts of legislation of the Russian Federation in connection with improving legal regulation of the media, television broadcasting and radio broadcasting”, a universal licence may be obtained by a broadcaster, as the editorial office of a television channel and radio station, on the basis of an application. This sort of licence grants the right to distribute a channel by means of transmission in any environment (terrestrial, cable and satellite broadcasting).

The draft law also affects the procedure for the distribution of foreign channels. These channels must be registered in the Russian Federation as media outlets. The presence of this registration means that they must abide in full by the rules set out in Russia’s media laws.

The document also introduces the concept of an “online publication” for internet websites registered as media outlets. The list of characteristics of a media outlet has been adjusted so that internet websites can be included. In particular, the characteristic of frequency of publication is supplemented by the characteristic of frequency of updating. At the same time, the principle remains that the registration of internet websites as media outlets is voluntary.

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