Russian Ad Bill Passes
MOSCOW (AP) - Russian lawmakers gave preliminary approval Thursday to bills banning tobacco ads in the media and on the street and severely restricting TV commercials in a bid to rein what proponents call aggressive advertising.
The lower house of parliament, the State Duma, voted 275-73 to approve amendments to the Law on Advertising that would bar commercial breaks during movies, religious broadcasts, some live public events, and educational and children's programs on television.
The amendments on TV ads were proposed by a regional legislature and supported by the Communist Party and others who argued that Russians were increasingly vexed by aggressive advertising. However, the measure was opposed by the government, which said it would hurt advertising profits - including in state media.
``The poor don't need advertising because they can't afford anything anyway, and the rich don't need it because they already know what to buy,'' said Nikolai Arefyev, a communist lawmaker. ``Advertising has become a public irritant.''
The Duma also voted 258-75 to tentatively approve a ban on tobacco advertising in print media, on street billboards and in public transportation. Tobacco ads already had been banned on television.
All the amendments were passed on the first reading, and must undergo two more readings in the Duma, win approval by the upper house of parliament, and be signed by President Vladimir Putin to become law.
Ad revenues make up about 60 percent of revenues for the three national channels, and as much as 80 percent for local stations, Federal Broadcasting Service chief Mikhail Seslavinsky told lawmakers. The rest comes from government subsidies or bank credits.
Seslavinsky warned that the restrictions would prevent broadcasters from earning their living and make them fully dependent on subsidies from the government or big business.
``This decision will punish television stations and viewers as well,'' Seslavinsky said.