The Ministry of Digital Development, Communications and Mass Media of Russia has drafted amendments to the law “On Mass Media” that will simplify the process of foreign ownership of the media.
The Ministry notes that according to the Article 19.1 of the Law “On Mass Media”, foreigners or persons with dual citizenship cannot act as founders of the media, own or in other ways control “more than 20 percent of stake (shares) in the authorized capital of a person who is a participant (member, shareholder) of the founder of the mass media”.
The ministry proposes to exclude the word “participant” from the article: the new version of the law will only concern the share in the capital of the founder of the mass media.
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In January, the Constitutional Court concluded that the use of the term “mass media participant” alongside with the term “mass media founder” creates difficulty in determining the persons affected by the ban. The provisions of the Article 19.1 were recognized to be inconsistent with the Constitution of the country.
The court noted that there was a lack of clarity in the question about the 20 percent involved: whether these should be owned by an organization being the founder of the media or a company that is directly involved in broadcasting.
The law restricting the share of foreign participation in the capital of the Russian mass media was adopted in 2014. In order to fulfill the law, large publishing houses and media holdings had to change the ownership structure.
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In particular, the changes affected “Business News Media” (“Vedomosti” newspaper), Independent media, HearstShkulevMedia, “STS-Media” of the “Echo of Moscow” radio station, Channel One Russia. In connection with the law, the German Axel Springer that used to publish Forbes in Russia decided to completely sell the Russian office.
Author: Anna Dorozhkina