Russia tightens regulation for media acquisitions by foreigners

The Russian government enforces tighter control over foreign-owned mass-media operating in Russia. While CNN already announced to go off the air in Russia at the end of this year – after 21 years of local retransmission - other media companies will have ask state authorities if they want to acquire even small shares in local media companies.

Vedomosti online reports today that, according to a new ruling, any foreign company acquiring media shares in Russia above 25 percent of the company’s capital needs to ask the antimonopoly committee for permission.

The new regulation is based on the Law on foreign investments in strategic industries, entering into force December 6th. This comes in addition to further legislative changes entering into force in 2016, limiting foreign ownership in any media to 20 percent.

Also, the threshold for limitations will change: While at the moment regulatory restrictions concern TV, radio companies, and newspapers above a daily circulation of 1mln single copy sales, the new restrictions will affect much smaller media: It will concern print outlets published twice or more per week, reaching an annual circulation of 15mln copies, weeklies with annual sales of more than 2,5mln copies, and monthlies above 0.7 mln sold magazines a year. In terms of a single issue this means a circulation of app. 60,000 for dailies, 50,000 for weeklies, and 58,000 for monthlies.

According to Vedomosti the new regulation will affect titles like Cosmopolitan (monthly 800,000 copies) Marie Claire (monthly 290,000) Afisha (265,000), Maxim (175,000) and Forbes (100,000), citing the publishers’ sales data. But most of all, free dailies will have to watch out, such as Metro (520.000 issues in Moscow), and even a business daily like Vedomosti itself.

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