News News

Who wants a share of the Russian media pie?

The European Audiovisual Observatory publishes major new study on foreign media ownership rules in Russia
Strasbourg 15/11/2018
  • Diminuer la taille du texte
  • Augmenter la taille du texte
  • Imprimer la page
  • Imprimer en PDF
Who wants a share of the Russian media pie?

Get it here

As the Russian media markets have increasingly flourished since the early nineties, foreign investors have been looking to get a slice of this increasingly lucrative pie. The Russian film market has grown to become one of the most dynamic in Greater Europe: the Russian cinema industry has recently turned to producing blockbusters for international consumption and their art house reputation remains strong. More recently the number of legal VoD services in Russia has virtually boomed. It would seem the time is ripe for foreign investors to place money in this dynamic media landscape. But how do the Russian authorities view this process? And how has Russian legislation reacted in order to safeguard against unwanted outside influence – both financial and indeed political – in Russian mass media? The European Audiovisual Observatory, part of the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, has just released its latest IRIS Extra report – Foreign ownership rules in Russian media.

Author Dmitry Golovanov of Moscow University starts his analyses in the early nineties when restrictions to foreign ownership of Russian media were still relatively soft. This resulted in a considerable rise in the number of foreign companies on the Russian television market, for example, particularly in the late 1990s.

Chapter two focuses on the first wave of changes to Russian media legislation in order to react to this situation. Increasing resistance to foreign ownership of the Russian media at the turn of the millennium was crystallised in a new Federal Statute in August 2001. This new legislation defined those persons who may not become founders of Russian TV channels, for example.

Chapter three analyses the creation of the category of “strategic companies” judged to be of “interest” for national security issues. This category of company was created in 2001 with the result that any privatisation or corporatisation of a “strategic company” requires prior approval of the Russian President. This measure became significant for Russian media in 2008 when any television or radio company broadcasting in an area where over half of the region’s population lives were included in this “strategic companies” category. This new measure included obligations such as the mandatory informing of the Russian antimonopoly body (the FAS) as soon as 5% or more of the company’s shares fall into foreign hands. Indeed, prior permission from the FAS would now be compulsory for the sale of 50% or more of company shares to a foreign investor.

Chapter four flashes forward to 2014 and the introduction of a significant new reform regarding foreign capital investment in the Russian media. This new two-tier system quite simply prohibited any foreign participation as the founder or editorial board member of a Russian mass media or broadcasting organisation. A further restriction limits the possible control of foreign players to 20% within any given media organisation. This 2014 reform affected between 35 to 50% of all Russian mass media organisations. These new and more draconian measures resulted in some foreign companies selling their assets and leaving the Russian market completely. Others simply reduced their participation in Russian media assets to the required 20%.

Chapter five looks at the restrictions placed on mass media market research organisations and video-on-demand services. July 2016 saw the introduction of the “Ant-TNS Act” which stipulated that market research, and particularly audience measurement, only be carried out by state authorised companies. Such an authorisation involved limitations on the participation of foreign capital comparable to those already applied to media and broadcasting organisations. The major TV channels and media holdings in Russia successfully obtained the introduction of the colloquially called “Anti-Netflix Act” in May 2017 in order to clarify the legal status of OTT services and effectively limit foreign ownership of on demand services.

Chapter six details the introduction in December 2015 of an obligation on mass media companies to report any foreign funds incoming into their activities and the final chapter seven concludes that Russia has consistently implemented a protectionist regime since the first measures introduced in 2001. The author signs off with the indication that the Russian authorities are now turning their attention and protectionist policies to Internet-related activity and the trans frontier flow of content and information.

Featured report Featured report

Key Trends 2019/2020 

Understanding the European film, television and VOD industries

Where were we before the COVID crisis?

To understand how COVID-19 has hit the film, TV and VOD sectors, we need to know how they were performing before it started. Key Trends 2019/2020 gives you a complete overview of the European audiovisual markets before the current crisis hit us.

  •  Which players are dominating today’s European audiovisual landscape?
  •  What are the latest market trends for cinema, television and on-demand services?
  •  How does Europe finance the production of new content and how well does it circulate?

These are some of the question explored in our new edition of Key Key Trends 2019/2020

The brand-new Key Trends 2019/2020 is free to download here. It gives you a one-volume overview of the latest developments in the European film, television and VOD industries, including market trends, financing models and circulation figures for European works. Key Trends is an executive summary of data contained in the European Audiovisual Observatory’s Yearbook – Television, VOD, cinema and video in 40 European states.

See previous Key Trends reports here

Featured Newsletter Featured Newsletter

IRIS Newsletter – our latest legal observations 

The IRIS Newsletter reports monthly on the most important legal developments for the audiovisual industry in 39 European countries.
In more than 30 short articles, it provides a regular, free overview of what has been happening at national and international level. In short, the IRIS Newsletter is an indispensable publication for all decision-makers and experts in the audiovisual sector, produced by us to improve the flow of information and transparency in the sector.

Featured Workshop Featured Workshop

Artificial Intelligence in the audiovisual industry

In the audiovisual industry, as in other sectors, the increasing use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) is likely to announce a paradigm shift, as it can transform the entire value chain.
The Observatory decided to take a closer look at these effects and devoted the 2019 edition of its annual workshop in December to discussing the opportunities and challenges raised by AI in the audiovisual sector, particularly in the journalistic field and in the film sector.

Tracking COVID-19 measures in the audiovisual sector Tracking COVID-19 measures in the audiovisual sector

We are tracking measures in our Member States and on a European level to support the audiovisual sector during and after the
COVID-19 crisis.

Database of studies and data from the European film agencies

paid for services paid for services

Yearbook Online Service 2019/2020

The BEST SOURCE OF DATA on:• television • film • video • on-demand audiovisual services in 40 European countries and Morocco

Published: 16/11/2019

► 400 tables collecting more than 25 000 data
► 40 country data sheets
► Data from 2014 to 2018


Price:  370 €
(click here for details)

Events and diary Events and diary

Visit our Events page for up to date details of Observatory events, plus information on events attended by our talented team.

Click here


If you want to stay informed, make sure you receive our monthly “wrap-up” newsletter and information about our latest free publications.

To join our mailing list:

email Alison Hindhaugh

Or telephone on:
  + 33 (0) 3 90 21 60 10 (direct)

Follow us on Social Media Follow us on Social Media


  Watch our videos