Moves towards digital migration has accelerate wider changes in regulation of media in Russia and other CIS countries, but progress towards digital switchover remains extremely slow, according to a new report from the European Audiovisual Observatory.
In Russia, progress has been delayed by political infighting. While amendments to the country’s broadcasting law were adopted in 2011 by the Russian parliament, the basic statue on which they were based dated from 1991, but was never adopted because of political disagreement.
The new amendments, affecting the licensing of TV channels, became statutory at the end of 2011, confirming the role of regulator the Roskomnadzor as the licensing authority. However, while the rules conﬁrm that licensing may be based on a tender, competition or auction, they still fail to provide details as to how the procedural choice will be determined.
The report found that current policies seem to have the effect of consolidating the power of the executive to control broadcasting spectrum, with the rules implemented in 2011 having the effect of widening the power of the government and president to rule on broadcasting. “This power has economic (budgetary spending and digital dividend distribution) and political (more political control with competition left for entertainment programming only) consequences. As Russia remains a trendsetter for most of the other CIS countries, this seems to be having repercussions for its neighbours,” the report concluded.
Rules to determine the make up of the country’s second and third multipexes were set out and having been postponed several times, licensing of broadcasters on the second DTT multiplex is now scheduled to take place on 14 December 2012.
Within three months from the bidding process being completed, all winners are to sign a 10-year contract with broadcasting organisation RTRN for its service, which consists of providing, in stages, access to viewers in Russia. Each winner will form packages of TV programmes for broadcasting in different time zones – that is, every set of programmes will be prepared for four time-shifted intervals. They will supply to RTRN the signals in accordance with the technical speciﬁcations set by RTRN, as well as provide it with the electronic programming guides. No process has been initiated for the third multiplex.
Addressing the other CIS countries, the report found that the advent of digital television has accelerated the elaboration of regulation and related processes in most of the countries of the region.
Some countries adopted changes in their broadcasting statutes, including Ukraine in 2006, Armenia in 2008 and 2010, and Kazakhstan in 2012, or their mass media statute, such as Russia in 2011. One country – Uzbekistan– laid the foundations for the switchover in a presidential decree, while the rest have opted for governmental ordinances and executive orders, the report found. Some changes made in the process go beyond merely adjusting the legal framework to digital technology, it said.