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Russia says cutting foreign media ownership ‘common international practice’

September 18, 2014, 17:13 UTC+3 MOSCOW
If passed, the bill would go into force on January 1, 2016 but stakeholders will have to bring ownership into line with regulations until February 1, 2017
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MOSCOW, September 18. /ITAR-TASS/. Cutting foreign ownership in Russian media assets is a common international practice, state Duma Speaker Sergey Naryshkin told reporters on Thursday.

He was commenting on an initiative by deputies from Russia's Communist Party as well as Just Russia and the Liberal Democratic Party who introduced on Wednesday a draft law restricting foreign ownership of the media to 20% in an attempt to protect Russia's “information sovereignty".

“This is a common international practice when the national legislation protects the market,” Naryshkin said, adding that standards for limiting in that sphere varied from 20 to 40%

The proposed legislation would debar overseas individuals or companies from setting up their own media outlets in Russia and from owning more than 20% of any business in broadcasting or the print media. It would apply equally to people without citizenship and Russians who have dual nationality.

The law “is aimed first of all at guaranteeing Russia's information sovereignty and decreasing the influence from abroad on events in the country which is an information war launched against our country,” said Sergei Zhelezniak, a senior lawmaker of the ruling United Russia party.

If passed, the bill would go into force on January 1, 2016 but stakeholders will have to bring ownership into line with regulations until February 1, 2017.

The bill would still need to be passed in three readings in the lower house of parliament, the State Duma, before being passed by the parliament's upper house and signed into law by President Vladimir Putin.

The State Duma will consider the document in the first reading at a plenary session on September 23.

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