The licensing of radio and television broadcasting

4 min read

Pepeliaev Group advises that 22 February 2011 saw the publication on the website of the Federal Service for Supervision over Telecommunications, Information Technology and Mass Media (“Roskomnadzor”) of its Order No. 048 dated 31 December 2010 On temporary rules for administrative procedures performed by the Federal Service for Supervision over Telecommunications, Information Technology and Mass Media to grant, renew, extend and cancel licences at the licensee’s request, to issue additional copies of licences, and to provide information contained in the licence register on specific licensees while rendering the state service of licensing radio and television broadcasting (the “Order”).

The order establishes temporary rules for administrative procedures performed by Roskomnadzor to license radio and television broadcasting. This procedure will not become permanent until special administrative regulations are adopted, which are currently being considered by the Ministry of Economic Development and Ministry of Justice.

The Order establishes the procedure for applications to Roskomnadzor, requirements for documents submitted to the authorised state body, deadlines and stages of the licensing process, and the grounds on which licensing applications may be refused.

More specifically, applicants for radio and television broadcasting licences will have to submit the following documents:

• Licensing application;
• Broadcasting philosophy;
• Copy of an agreement for the use of mass media products, if the applicant is not a founder of a mass media company;
• Evidence of availability of broadcasting equipment;
• Outgoing wire transfer request for the payment of state duty for licensing;
• Notarised copies of the certificate of registration in the Companies Register, articles of association as amended, extract fr om the Companies Register, and extract from the shareholders register as of the date of submission (for joint-stock companies).

Annexed to the Order are: a licensing application form, a form to be filled out when describing the broadcasting philosophy, and explanations as to how to prepare the set of the required documents.

A decision on whether to grant a license must be taken within 30 days of the day on which the documents are submitted to the licensing authority. This deadline may be extended at the discretion of the head of the licensing authority but by no more than another 30 days.

The Order retains the provision wh ereby only legal entities are eligible to apply for licenses.

Another provision that remains in place is that broadcasting must follow a programming philosophy. Such philosophy must specify what percentage of the total broadcasting time would be taken up by different types of programme content (news, sports, entertainment, etc). However, Roskomnadzor plans to remove this requirement for cable networks.

Among the principal new provisions introduced by the Order is an option to apply for a cable multi-channel broadcasting licence (Annex 12-7 to the Order).

This may help resolve the issue arising from the fact that cable operators broadcast media products.

Television companies used to have two options: they either would broadcast television channels themselves, or they granted broadcasting rights to cable operators. Under article 31 of the Russian Law No. 2124-1 dated 27 December 1991 On mass media, a broadcasting licence is required to broadcast media products. This effectively imposed on the cable operator the requirement to obtain a broadcasting licence. However, the activities of cable operators are not of a purely broadcasting nature.

Under clause 13 of the Russian Government Resolution No. 1359 dated 7 December 1994 On the licensing of radio and television broadcasting and undertaking telecommunication activity for radio and television broadcasting purposes in Russia, no legal entity may be licensed to broadcast more than two channels covering the same territory if the coverage areas are the same or overlap by more than two thirds. Thus, a cable operator would not be allowed to broadcast more than two channels even if it had a licence.

In the absence of special regulation for the activities of cable operators, companies were forced either to set up numerous subsidiaries (so that each of them could obtain two licences), or to enter into telecommunications services agreements with content-producing television companies and prove that it was the television company that had to be licensed, or else to work outside the legal framework since there was no due regulation in place.

The Order provides an option to apply for a cable multi-channel broadcasting licence that would specify a list of channels that may be broadcast under such license or the number of an item from that list. This will help resolve the problem described above.

The fact that the Order is now in force means that Rossvyazokhrancultura’s Order No. 117 dated 6 September 2007 is no longer in effect.

The Order’s provisions dealing with the licensing of publicly available Russian radio and television channels became effective when it was signed, and its remaining part came into force on 15 March 2011 (it will apply to documents submitted to Roskomnadzor on or after 15 March 2011).

For further information, please contact:

Natalya Ivashchenko, Head of group "Telecommunications", at: (495) 967-0007 or by e-mail

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