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Bill on state control of broadcast media being debated

(IPI/IFEX) - IPI is very concerned about the serious threat to freedom
expression and opinion in Russia posed by the passing of a bill which
tighten state control over the country's broadcast media by creating a
television and radio watchdog.

On 17 March 1999, the upper chamber of the Federal Assembly, the
Council, approved the bill by 115 votes, with seven against and two
abstentions. The bill, which had been already passed by the lower
State Duma on 10 March, must now go to the President for signing into

The law "On the Supreme Council for the Protection of Moral Standards in
Television and Radio Broadcasting in the Russian Federation" would
create a
high council comprising of twelve members - three each nominated by the
President, the Government and the two parliamentary chambers - to
moral standards in broadcasting and television. The council would be
empowered to take "appropriate measures" against any television or radio
station broadcasting a programme "liable to enflame social, racial,
national, religious hatred, enmity or superiority, or advocating war,
violence or cruelty."

IPI understands that although the law would not let the new council ban
broadcast of reports or force media companies to co-ordinate with it,
council would be able to issue reprimands and impose fines for
material that does not meet "acceptable" moral standards.

IPI believes that the bill seeks a return to censorship and the
control of the media, and could be used to suppress legitimate news and
opinion, in particular during the campaigns for the parliamentary and
presidential elections scheduled for the end of this year and in

Recommended Action

Send appeals to the President:
  • urging him to veto the bill when it goes to him for signing into law

    Appeals To

    His Excellency Boris Yeltsin
    President of the Russian Federation
    Moscow, Russia
    Fax: +7095 206 3961 / 206 5137 / 206 0033 / 224 0366
    E-mail: [email protected]

    Please copy appeals to the source if possible.

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