Russia proposes pay TV programming overhaul to align with free TV

Russian Duma

Programming on Russian pay TV channels looks set to be overhauled following proposals by Vladimir Putin’s United Russia party.

A draft law has been introduced in the Russian Duma proposing to impose the same age-appropriate content restrictions on pay TV channels that already apply to free-to-view over-the-air TV, according to local reports.

Characterised as designed to protect minors, the new rules would see pay TV services forbidden from transmitting content rated 18-plus between the hours of 04:00 and 23:00, while content rated as 16-plus could not be broadcast between 07:00 and 21:00.

The move, if approved, is likely to have a negative impact on pay TV operators in the country, with some loss of subscription revenue and additional burdens in ensuring compliance.

The authors of the proposed legislation cited statistics from 2020 that showed that 46.2 million Russian homes subscribed to pay TV services, giving them a reach of about 81.5% of all Russian households.

The changes come alongside a wave of amendments to legislation in Russia designed to “protect traditional values” in the words of the Duma, and which basically amount to a ban on the promotion of LGBTQIA content in the Russian Federation.

New rules, which impact laws covering IT, media, advertising and cinema, designed to prohibit the promotion of “non-traditional sexual relations”, were unanimously adopted during their first reading in the parliament last week.

Among other things the amendments ban advertising that demonstrates “non-traditional sexual relations or preferences”, while cinematic movies promoting “non-traditional relations” will not receive a licence.

Duma chairman Vyacheslav Volodin told deputies that “we must do everything to protect our children and those who want to live a normal life”.

“Everything else is sin, sodomy, darkness, and our country is fighting this,” said Volodin.

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