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Russian switchover could reduce plurality, says report

Digital switchover in Russia and Ukraine is likely to pose serious challenges in terms of adequate regulation and domination of the process by state-run broadcasters in Russia, according to a new report by the European Audiovisual Observatory.

The authors of the report’s lead article, Andrei Richter of the Moscow Media Law and Policy Center and Taras Shevchenko of the Kyiv Media Law Institute, say that the advent of digital television is driving the creation of new regulations in both countries. However, they question the possibility of achieving “adequate legal regulation and the setting of transparent parameters for technical advancement”.

The authors also points to the possible allocation of Russia’s first three terrestrial multiplexes to state broadcasters favoured by the government as a result of the domination of state-run broadcasters in the country. Hundreds of smaller regional broadcasters could, the report says, face collapse due to the high cost of switchover.

The report estimates that the total cost of switchover in Russia will be €2.752bn, with €1.716bn coming from the public purse and €1.036bn from the commercial sector. The equivalent figure for Ukraine is €365m, with the bulk coming from the commercial sector (€364.24m), supplemented by €760,000 from the government. Both countries expect switchover to be complete by 2015.