A bill to restrict foreign ownership in Russia’s media has been submitted to the country's government for consideration, a senior Russian lawmaker said on Friday.
“We sent the draft law to the government yesterday,” Leonid Levin, first deputy chairman of the State Duma’s committee on information policy, told ITAR-TASS. “I would like to underline that because the initiative will not involve spending from the Russian budget, the government is not obliged to respond to the bill or give comments.”
Communications and Mass Media Minister Nikolai Nikiforov said earlier in the day that the Russian government had not received the bill yet.
“The document has not been submitted to the government,” Nikiforov said. “When it’s agreed upon by all the entities, the government’s common position will be worded,”
The proposed legislation, introduced by deputies from Russia's Communist Party as well as Just Russia and the Liberal Democratic Party, 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. The restrictions would apply equally to Russians who have dual citizenship and non-citizen residents.
If passed, the bill will go into force on January 1, 2016 but stake holders will have until February 1, 2017 to bring ownership into line with regulations.
“We are monitoring the industry’s position from the point of view of a reaction to the bill and have a positive feedback, including from the union of journalists of Moscow and Russia,” said Levin. “We will continue taking opinions into consideration, and if there are any comments, we are ready to take them into account in the second reading of the bill.”
To become law, the bill needs to be passed in three readings in the lower house of parliament, the State Duma, before being approved by the parliament's upper house and signed into law by President Vladimir Putin.