5.3.7 Mass media
The Law on the Mass Media, adopted in 1991 and recently amended has confirmed the freedom of obtaining, producing and disseminating information; of establishing, owing, using, and disposing of mass media; banished censorship and prohibited misusing the freedom of mass information (Article 1, 3, 4). However, provisions for implementation of these freedoms were not very clear while mechanisms to enforce its goals were few. In spite of that, the Law is believed to be an important step towards implementation of civil rights for information and speech. The Civic Chamber Report of 2006 evaluated the Law on the Mass Media as a liberal achievement and insisted on its proper enforcement. In 1995, a special Law on State Support for Media and Book Publishing and a Law on Economic Support for Regional (Municipal) Newspapers were adopted.
In the 2000s, juridical practice in the field developed and the trial of media or journalists became a more usual means for settling conflicts, including numerous claims of defamation. The professional community insists on further development of legal regulations in the field including reformation of state owned media into public or private organisations and lobbies for adoption of a Law on Guarantees of Economic Independence of the Mass Media. Journalists also criticise the Anti-extremism Law for too broad an interpretation of its basic notion that could be extended to critical publications. Self-regulation in a charter form is becoming more important in the field though a professional concern among broadcasters, publishers and journalists with a public mission grows slowly.
The new draft of the Law on Mass Media elaborated by the Russian Journalists' Union and published in 2008, became an important professional event. The draft aims to clarify principle definitions, and to adjust its clauses to realities of the media market. The new Law will be harmonised with the Civil and other Codes and the anti-extremist legislation. It will improve protection of journalists' rights, will specify economic regulations within the mass media sector, will reinforce independent public regulators, will settle the issues of licensing in view of changing to digital formats, and will match national broadcasting practices to the norms of support for public broadcasting stated in the document of the CE and UNESCO.