Russian president Vladimir Putin yesterday signed into law a controversial amendment to the country’s advertising legislation banning advertising on pay TV channels.
The amendment, which will come into effect at the beginning of next year, was originally proposed by Igor Zotov, a Duma deputy and leader of a minority party, who argued that free TV channels in Russian were at a disadvantage compared with pay channels that could show advertising subsidised by subscription fees.
The amendment has been widely criticised both within and outside Russia. The country’s Presidential Human Rights Council has said it would lead to further monopolisation in the advertising market, while the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) said it could further limit media pluralism in the country by putting pay channels out of business.
A group of channel providers earlier appealed to Putin, Russian prime minister Dmitry Medvedev and Duma speaker Sergey Naryshkin to consult with businesses in the sector, arguing that the amendment could force over half of the country’s subscription channels to shut down.