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Russian media start labeling content on basis of audience age

September 01, 2012, 7:05 UTC+3

Roskomnadzor suggests that programs to be aired should be rated by copyright holders, and not the TV channels.

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MOSCOW, September 1 (Itar-Tass) —— All of Russia’s print and online publications as well as TV and radio stations on September 1 should start labeling their products on the basis of the audience’s age. This innovation is designed to protect children from harmful information. The heads of the watchdog body Roskomnadzor and of the media industry agree that in the implementation of the law they will face a number of challenges, but the watchdog is ready to work with experts and lawmakers on a compromise.

Roskomnadzor suggests that programs to be aired should be rated by copyright holders, and not the TV channels. The rating should be awarded to products addressed to age groups 12+, 16+ and 18+. The rating for other age groups will be the voluntary decision of the channel. The size of the warning sign will be based on the size of the channel’s logo. Some music clips can be labeled separately. A similar requirement applies to individual music tracks the radio stations.

Radio stations will have to inform their audiences about the age rating of their content four times a day. However, the rule of mandatory labeling applies to some programs meant for audiences aged over 16 and 18. Announcements of TV shows and movies as well as TV and radio programs, publications in print and online media are liable to mandatory age rating, too.

As for the print and online media, from September 1 the periodicals should carry a special mark. This requirement does not apply to social and political publications and news feeds of news agencies. "A sign or a warning message is to be placed on the front page of the periodical.” The labels or warnings should be no smaller than the logo or the font used on the page. The font of the warning message should be different from the actual font on the page. Promptly updated online media, as their representatives say, will find it very difficult to filter their content: many have decided to just put the 18+ sign on the website. The Ekho Moskvy radio station has done precisely that.

Roskomnadzor chief Alexander Zharov said this week “we are not going to be bullies showering everybody around with restrictions and warnings.” At the same time he sees no chance of postponing the enactment of this law, because it was signed by the president eighteen months ago.

“I believe that every mass medium has an idea of how to use the law,” Zharov said.

During September Roskomnadzor will be ready to work with the industry to analyze the enforcement practice, the response from society, prosecutors and other interested entities. In October, there will be the final discussion with the aim to adjust the rules. Representatives of the State Duma, including the authors of the law, prosecutors and other agencies have been invited to participate. "Roskomnadzor is ready to work together to seek solutions that are not excessive for the media and acceptable to the public and Roskomnadzor as the authority supervising the observance of the law," he concluded.

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