Putin partially removes advertising restrictions on pay TV channels

RIA Novosti / Sergey Pyatakov
Russian President has signed into law the bill that removes a ban on advertising on paid cable and satellite TV channels which air predominantly Russian content.

The amendments to the Federal Law on advertising, signed by Vladimir Putin on Wednesday, allow pay TV channels to run ads if at least three quarters of their content falls under the definition of “national product.”

This is a new legal term meaning that at least 50 percent of investment in the program, film or any other material came from Russian companies, individuals or government. However, broadcast of imported materials is not considered production and its cost is not added to the Russian share of investment.

The Federal Anti-Monopoly Service will label content as national product and the same agency will be in charge of monitoring the TV channels for violations.

READ MORE: Advertising ban on cable TV up for changes

The quick corrections to the recently-introduced law containing restrictions come after numerous protests from mass media professionals and rights activists. They claimed that the ban made life extremely difficult for small private TV channels in Russian regions. Rights advocates said this practically infringed the constitutional principle of free speech.

The Russian public discussed the issue in mass media and in social networks and at the end of last year it was raised at Vladimir Putin’s annual press conference. A representative of the mass centrist political movement All-Russian Popular Front told the president that once the restrictions are imposed, they could affect over 60 million customers and lead to the loss of about 1,700 jobs in the mass media.

Putin hinted at possible changes during the press conference. Later, presidential press secretary Dmitry Peskov told RT that he expected the president to support the partial lifting of the ban.

The amended bill will come into force as soon as it is officially published in the mass media.