No one should have a monopoly over the airwaves; and even ownership
rights may be restricted to ensure that this is the case. This
was the considered conclusion of the Union of Right-WIng Forces
(SPS) faction of the Duma, which has discussed the conflict over
TV-6. The SPS leader Boris Nemtsov even has a formula for demonopolizing
the media industry - which he has already shared with President
Nemtsov believes that nobody – neither the state structures (including
affiliated) nor private - should be permitted to control over
25% of the television industry. Nemtsov is referring only to national
and similar channels. Four laws should be amended to enable this
anti-monopoly standard to come into effect - the laws on natural
monopolies, competition, state service, and the media. The president
liked the idea, Nemtsov said.
Andrei Vulf, an SPS deputy on the Duma Committee for Information
Policy, does not think his leader could have timed the initiative
any better. Vulf considers that elimination of the independent
TV channel is a means of "a war on political opponents".
When no one has monopoly rights over the airwaves, no one will
have monopoly rights over information either.
Yevgeny Ischenko, Deputy Chairman of the Property Committee of
the State Duma and independent deputy, criticized the anti-monopoly
initiative. He referred to the Constitution, which bans restriction
of ownership rights. And since a private individual cannot be
restricted in his/herrights as owner, then the state cannot be
restricted either. The closest ally of the SPS, Yabloko, is also
sceptical. "Percentages are important, but they are really
only a secondary issue," says Deputy Head of the Yabloko
faction Sergei Ivanenko, who is on the Committee for Information
Policy. He believes that the problem is actually based elsewhere
– in "money and licenses". The money may come "from
the state, oligarchs, or any group of individuals".
According to Ivanenko, a license "is a matter of good intentions
from the state”, as the state organizes the tenders. If the state
has good intentions, it will support independent TV channels.
Ivanenko does not think that the government has good intentions
nowadays. Neither does he think there is a political force in
Russia now which is capable of challenging the authorities. That
is why Yabloko will draft a law on public television - and, if
the Duma passes it, will set out to create this kind of television.
The Communist faction also advocates the idea of public television,
says deputy Alexander Kravets. The Communists advocate pretty
much the same as Yabloko promotes - any individual may buy one
or more shares in a TV channel. However, Kravets doubts that the
Communists will succeed, "as Yabloko is after the same thing"
and does not think that Nemtsov's idea will guarantee the existence
of independent media in Russia. Kravets does not think any such
guarantees are possible, "given the regime that we have".
"LUKoil-Garant controlled only 15% of TV-6 and yet the
whole company was shut down," Kravets was quoted as saying.
Law in Russia