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Russia passes pay TV ad ban

Russia’s State Duma has passed a bill banning advertising on cable and satellite pay TV channels, which is set to take effect from the beginning of next year. 

According to reports, the bill is designed to level competition between Russia’s basic, free-to-view, cable channels, and cable channels that make money from ads and subscriptions.

All channels that are available exclusively on a paid basis, as well as those that can only be accessed using a TV decoder will be included in the ad-ban.

Exempt from the ban are all national, universally accessible and terrestrial channels – essentially the major state-run networks.

According to an FT report, Russia’s ‘big three’ state owned networks have lost market share over the past 10 years, while the proportions of households that view cable and satellite channels has risen.

The legislation went through quickly, passing its first reading on Tuesday and its second on Friday. Pending approval from Russia’s upper house of parliament, it is due to take force from January.

According to a Moscow Times report, the heads of several Russian channels have voiced concerns at the bill, claiming that around 150 of Russia’s 270 cable and satellite channels will be placed on the brink of survival and the ad-ban will increase the price of paid TV services.