The scandalous law on the monopolization of the advertising market without expertise was adopted in the State Duma

The suddenness of his appearance, the absence of an anti-corruption opinion and other assessments surprised the deputies

At an extraordinary meeting of the State Duma, held on July 15, the deputies adopted in the first reading a bill amending the law “On Advertising” – on the creation of a single operator of digital outdoor advertising. The document will regulate approximately 4,500 digital advertising surfaces that exist in Russia today. It is assumed that a single operator – a private company – will create a convenient domestic service where advertisers will be able to post information on the streets and on the Internet within the ecosystem of a single operator. This is what confused the parliamentarians, who attacked the bill with criticism. The deputies pointed to the emerging threat to the existence of 90% of the players in the outdoor advertising market. However, despite the scandal, the bill was adopted in the first reading. What in reality it threatens the market and which company promotes its interests through parliamentarians, MK discussed with a source in the State Duma who wished to remain anonymous.

Photo: Dmitry Katorzhnov

The bill was presented to parliamentarians by Artyom Kiryanov, a deputy from the United Russia party. It is known that the normative act was supported by the State Duma Committee on Economic Policy due to the fact that “advertising becomes a hidden form of promoting someone's interests”, and recommended that the document be adopted in the first reading. However, during the discussion, the deputies voiced a number of claims to the bill. Some pointed to the inevitable monopolization of the market, which will cause the adoption of this bill. Others considered that the 30-year contract for accommodation and other preferences for a single operator is lobbying for the interests of certain players. The parliamentarians were confused by the potential placement of advertising on cultural sites. The deputies also drew attention to the lack of consultations with representatives of the industry. During the discussion, even private companies were named in whose interests such a law could be adopted. According to one of the parliamentarians, a deputy affiliated with the largest player in the Russian advertising market, Russ Outdoor, works in the State Duma.

State Duma Chairman Vyacheslav Volodin noted that in its final form, the bill should not “offend local companies” and should be focused on controlling the activities of companies from unfriendly countries.

— Frankly speaking, the adopted law is a mean one. In fact, all rights to advertise are transferred to some obscure private company. Taking into account the fact that all outdoor advertising in our country belongs to the regions – the income from it goes either to municipal or regional budgets – it is not at all clear how it could have been adopted.

“But that's not all. Proceeds from advertising structures on the facades of houses belong to real estate investors. It is not clear how they will now take away this right. In general, the law is ill-conceived. Obviously, its initiators have a desire to take everything for themselves, not taking into account the interest of many thousands of people who received advertising revenue.

– Yes. Any monopoly leads to corruption and, as a result, to the decay of the market. The most interesting thing is that the law was put forward by some unknown deputy, who had never shown himself in any way before. And suddenly he submits a bill to the State Duma the evening before, on July 14, and today it is already being considered in the first reading without an official recall of the government, which almost never happens.

— When this deputy presented his bill, he said that it is to protect the interests of the country in a difficult socio-economic situation. However, he did not provide any examples of the implementation of some anti-state program or individual statements through advertising. And we understand that they don't exist.

– Since such a document affects the budgets of the regions, it was necessary to send it, first of all, to the regions so that they express their opinion. But they weren't even asked. And we are talking about a total budget of more than 70 billion rubles.

– When the deputies asked if an anti-corruption examination was carried out on this bill, there was no answer, from which it became clear that no one had carried out such an examination. If we were talking about a state-owned company, then one could somehow agree with the bill, but when the normative act expressly states that all powers will be transferred to a private company without competition, this raises many questions.

– The bill was opposed by the Communists, the parties “Fair Russia” and “New People”. In my opinion, even the Liberal Democratic Party was against it. They wanted to organize an accelerated procedure for submitting amendments to this bill, but they managed to increase it from 15 to 30 days, that is, up to one month. But during this period, very little can be changed, in my opinion. More time is needed.

– Now it is very difficult to assess, since there were deputies who asked the initiator of the bill if anyone applied to the Federation Council with this document, since this normative act affects the interests of the regions of Russia, and according to the law in these cases with the regions and it is necessary to coordinate. But everyone avoided answering the question.

— Such a scenario is possible, because the bill actually takes a significant part of the revenues from the budgets of the regions, and the Federation Council protects their interests.

It is already known that industry participants want to propose amendments to the bill, but at the moment they are not yet ready. Many market representatives are in the process of developing their positions. And although the term for the proposal of amendments has been increased from 15 to 30 days, it may still not be enough. The monopolization of the market will destroy the advertising industry in our country, and for consumers of services it will result in additional financial costs, experts say.


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