Russian President Putin Signs Law Limiting Foreign Ownership of Media Companies

Vladimir Putin Meeting Russian Filmmakers 2013 H

As of 2016, foreign ownership of Russian broadcasters cannot exceed 20 percent stakes

Russia's President Vladimir Putin has signed a law that limits foreign ownership of Russian media companies to 20 percent stakes, killing hopes that the controversial legislation may eventually be revised.

The legislation, which is set to hit Disney and Modern Times Group, the Swedish owner of a 38 percent share in the broadcaster CTC Media, will come into force Jan. 1, 2016. Those companies that don't comply will risk losing their licenses.

"The new requirements of the law probably won't have a direct impact on our operations but could substantially influence the ownership structure of the business, which is owned by the U.S.-based parent company and other non-Russian shareholders," Yuliana Slashcheva, CTC Media's general director, said in a statement released Wednesday.

"We are analyzing all possibilities that we have to find the most effective line of action in these circumstances to protect interests of our shareholders," she added.

Earlier this month, CTC Media addressed the Russian parliament's lower chamber, requesting that public companies be exempt from the regulation, the Russian business daily Kommersant reported. However, the move brought no results.

On the news of the legislation, CTC Media's stock value lost more than $500 million.

Another company to be affected by the law is Disney, which owns a 49 percent share in Disney Channel Russia, with the other 51 percent owned by local broadcaster UTH.

Disney's Russian office declined comment.