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Decision on support for cable channels may be taken within days, says aide

There's a high probability that our lawmakers and appropriate ministries will take the essential steps already in the next few days," presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov said
Presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov ITAR-TASS/Zurab Dzhavakhadze
Presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov
© ITAR-TASS/Zurab Dzhavakhadze

MOSCOW, December 30. /TASS/. President Vladimir Putin will most likely issue all the necessary instructions shortly on drafting measures of support for independent cable channels in Russia, his press secretary Dmitry Peskov told RT channel on Monday.

"There's a high probability that our lawmakers and appropriate ministries will take the essential steps already in the next few days," he said in a comment on the request to support the cable channels that the All-Russia People's Front public movement had addressed to Putin.

"I don't think our laws really put up obstacles to the transmission of channels liked the CNN in Russia," Peskov said. "There's no doubt we're interested in diversified sources of information and I hope we'll get a comfortable environment for broadcasting in the final run."

"It's well-known the president treats initiatives of the People's Front with much attention and there are grounds to think in this case he will instruct the relevant agencies (of state power) to scrutinize this issue," he said.

"The financial hardships of our cable channels are commonly known in the professional circles, all the more so that the problem was mentioned by journalists in the course of the major news conference (when Putin addressed reporters on December 19)," Peskov said.

Earlier on Monday, Alexander Brechalov, the co-chairman of the central staff of the People's Front voiced the hope the President would interfere in the situation around the ban on advertising on cable channels.

"If the president reacts to our initiative, the State Duma will be able to consider these initiatives promptly in the form of amendments and to change the situation on cable channels," he said while commenting on the introduction of a revised law on advertising that bans ads on cable and satellite channels. The law takes effect as of January 1, 2015.

In the outgoing year, the People's Front was holding consultations with executives of municipal and regional cable channels. One of the facts these consultations helped to establish was the highly credible and reliable character of these channels as the media for informing the local and regional communities.

Since many of these channels did not have enough budgetary support, the experts of the People's Front drew a conclusion that it was important to give them an opportunity to get revenues from advertising.

Deputy of the State Duma Olga Timofeyeva, a co-chairperson of the People’s Front central staff explained why a ban on broadcasting ads over satellite and cable channels had been introduced. She said the MPs proceeded from conviction the audiences that watched satellite and/or cable channels and paid for this were not obliged to pay for watching the ads.

“However, now that we’ve monitored the situation on the entire territory of this country, we’ve drawn the conclusion that a big number of channels broadcasting over satellite or cable inform various communities of people,” she said, adding that it was precisely these channels that might be affected by the legislative novelty.

Timofeyeva also said the revised law had driven independent cable channels to the brink of survival, since unlike the regional or municipal channels, they could not count on the funds from regional or local budgets. “That is why we’ve asked the president to revise the norm again,” she said. “If our position is heeded then we’ll introduce amendments in the law very promptly.”