Film, video and photography
The Law on State Support for Cinematography in the Russian Federation was adopted in 1996. It gave temporary advantages to the film industry (tax and custom duty exemption, for example) that were never fully implemented. However, it did provide about 80% of non-budget financing. Tax incentives for private investors expired in 2001 and were substituted with public funding.
State funding is provided for films that obtain National Film status, which means that all its materials and statutory copies are submitted to the State Film Fund of the Russian Federation. A dissemination license is provided after giving a copy to the state depository; however, services provided by cinema theatres are not included in the list of cultural ones. The statutory deposit is also given to the Sate Fund of Television and Radio Programmes, Russian State Film and Photo Archives, and the Russian State Audio Archives. Amendments to the Law, adopted in February 2006, eliminate the requirement for the Ministry of Culture to keep the State Register of Cinematographic Organisations.
In 2001, two Presidential Decrees were issued in order to restructure film production and film distribution through turning film studios and other related enterprises into joint stock companies. An important issue for the sector is that remuneration for production and distribution is regulated by special governmental acts, which underpin the key financial role of film producers.
General laws concerned with production and commercial activities regulate audiovisual productions, including those dealing with issues of public morality, control over the dissemination of pornographic material, etc. Specific legislation in the field firstly regulates legal production, licensing (of audiovisual material and phonograms, computer programmes and DB introduced in 2008), dissemination and screening. These measures are aimed at fighting piracy and at protection of the market against illegal production, which is in high demand due to lower prices, however they still remain ineffective.
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.