Foreign TV channels under scrutiny in Russia

Communications control agency investigating licenses

MOSCOW -- Many foreign TV channels could be taken off the packages of Russian cable operators, as they don't have proper licenses, according to the communications control agency, Roskomnadzor.

The agency has launched an inspection of local cable operators' packages to make sure that all the broadcast channels have legitimate licenses, said a Roskomnadzor spokesman. "For a long time, no one paid attention to that, but now it's about time to make order in that area," he said.

"Roskomnadzor's actions are in compliance with the law," said Marina Dozortseva, deputy general director of National Cable Networks, one of the country's largest cable TV operators. "But the legislation regarding foreign channels' broadcasting in Russia is imperfect."

Yuri Pripachkin, president of the Russian association of cable television, said that all issues regarding the legal status of foreign TV channels in Russia should be resolved with the adoption of amendments to the media legislation that are expected to be submitted for approval before the end of the year.

Meanwhile, foreign channels said they were prepared to comply with the existing regulations. "Eurosport is one of the first foreign channels that began broadcasting in Russia, and I don't think we should have any problems obtaining necessary licenses," said Eduard Solovyov, general director of Media Large, which represents Eurosport in Russia.

"We comply with the law," said a Discovery spokesperson. "From time to time we consult with officials to ensure our ongoing compliance with local laws."

Currently, only BBC and Euronews have broadcasting licenses in Russia, according to the Russian association of cable television.