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Advertising ban on cable TV up for changes

Advertising ban on cable TV up for changes
Presidential press secretary Dmitry Peskov has told RT he expects Vladimir Putin to support some moves to soften the effect of the ad ban on subscription cable and satellite TV.

The measure would help smaller independent mass media companies to survive and provide the community with free and multifaceted information.

I have no doubt that Mr. President will pay due attention to this initiative by the Popular Front in order to render some help to cable TV stations broadcasting through cable networks that are right now facing very serious financial problems in their activities,” Peskov said in a telephone interview with RT.

He said consultation with a view to providing options is appropriate at this stage.

I have no doubt that Mr. President will ask the relevant ministries and services to evaluate different possibilities in order to give those channels the ability to sell their advertising space during broadcasting, because when the market is falling they need assistance from the government,” he added.

I am quite sure that Mr. President will give all the necessary orders to make the process quite fast.”

Peskov also told RT that in his mind the current restrictions do not impede the work of news majors such as CNN on the Russian market, but noted that the authorities were interested in the presence of various sources of information in the country.

We hope that in the end a generally comfortable environment will be ensured here for broadcasters,” he said.

The amendments to the federal law on advertising banning any commercials on paid cable and satellite channels are due to come into effect from January 1, 2015. The sponsors of the motion claim that they want to remove the existing violation of customers’ rights. When customers pay for cable or satellite subscription and are still subjected to ads, these ads can be considered an unwanted and forcefully imposed service.

The new rules do not apply to companies that possess a license to broadcast in at least one of Russia’s regions, and therefore it will bring no changes for major federal channels. The situation is different for smaller regional broadcasters: according to industry sources, the new amendments will affect some 1,400 channels, or roughly 40 percent of Russian television operators.

Analysts predicted that the regulation would restrict the media space by forcing privately owned channels to either shut down or hike their subscription rates sharply. Political and human right groups appealed to the authorities to revoke the advertising ban.

The most recent call to reverse the ban comes from the centrist pro-Putin political movement the All-Russian Popular Front (ONF). One of the movement’s leaders, Aleksandr Brechalov, 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 addressed the issue at the latest annual press conference, saying the ban was not initiated by authorities or politicians, but originated from within the mass media industry. The president added that in the complicated economic conditions the authorities would have to make a choice: whether to send direct financial aid to TV channels, which was rather difficult, or to let them make more money through advertising.

It is the audience’s choice - whether they want to pay for certain things or not,” Putin noted.