Pavel Stepanov — RBC: “the Regulation of messenger need for competition”

Media and communications Union (MKS) has completed work on amendments to the law “On communications” and “On information”. In the case of the adoption of this document, foreigners will be prohibited from owning more than 20% in the online cinemas, and messengers will be required to identify users (“link” it with a specific person).

Prepared by ISS, a bill widely criticized by other industry players. In an interview with RBC head of the Union Pavel Stepanov said that in the near future amendments will be submitted to the state Duma, however, after someone in the ISS is still under discussion. According to him, the proposed Union measures are necessary both to increase the competition among market players and to protect national content.

“We appreciate the services that are massive”

— The focus of the proposed ISS the bill is paid online theaters — or, using the terminology of the document, “audiovisual services”. Why?

— We have included in the bill on the audiovisual services, because the participants of the ISS are primarily in this plane. We exclude from the document the social network and everything to do with custom content, and search engines. Although I have seen the reviews that may need handling and user generated content. But we wanted to develop a regulation for professional content, not user. The work of the messengers the bill also applies.

I want to note that we, of course, those are important services that are massive. You mentioned the limitation on ownership of foreign investor share in the audiovisual service level to 20%. Under this provision are subject to audiovisual services with an average daily visit in Russia 100 thousand or more people in a month, and 20 thousand for one subject of the Federation. When preparing the bill, we requested data from TNS, Roskomnadzor, and a number of other sources. Not all Russian online movie theaters fall under this regulation. Even from the formal point of view, the thesis that the rule will hurt the entire industry, in our opinion, grossly exaggerated.

Revenue online cinemas

Revenue online cinemas in Russia in the first half of 2016 amounted to RUB 3.1 billion, according to Telecom Daily. By the end of 2015, revenues of services increased by 13% to 6.3 billion RUB At the same time 64% of revenues had on the advertising business model. For the first half of the major players in the Russian online video market was YouTube, online cinema ivi, Tvigle, Rutube, video services of “Rostelecom”.

— The bill proposes to include these services in the registry. How many services it will be?

— How will this registry is a question that you need to speak with Roskomnadzor. According to the researches at our disposal, we are talking about up to 30 services.


— Why is the ISS undertook to write the rules for instant messengers and audio-visual services?

— Audio-visual services are an integral part of media space, and it is no regulation, even at the level of concepts, what they represent. The bill defines what it is, what services do can be considered significant and which were not.

— To whom this regulation was initially necessary, what will it give?

— Without regulation to define what audiovisual service or messenger? Have questions about buying, selling, development, state support of these services, possibly, taxation. The phenomenon exists, is actively developed, and the basic question of what it is, no one can answer. Any relationship is a relationship regulated by law. And we have a block of public relations, which are audiovisual services, but no relationships, since they are not regulated.

— Market participants are assumed, thus you want to protect the interests of the members of ISS who suffer losses: audiovisual services bit share for audience and advertising from traditional media companies, messengers threat for mobile operators. Is that so?

— We create regulation for the regulation, but for the sake of creating a single competitive environment. This is the first task.

The second objective — the protection of national content. Just related to this is the limitation of “20 to 80” (talking about the share of foreign investors in the audiovisual services. — RBC). Note that this rule will not apply to sites that host user content.

The third story concerns the identification of the users in the messengers is the task associated with the challenges and threats to society that are present because of the anonymity: the threat of leakage of personal data, and spam protection and terrorist threats. The identity that is offered, allows you to provide information security using modern services.

Photo: Oleg Yakovlev/RBC


Photo: Oleg Yakovlev/RBC

— Identification requirement applies only to the messengers? Or online cinemas too?

— First of all, users of instant messengers. Audiovisual services this will affect when posting user content. But the question will be solved at the level of bylaws.

That is, if an user wants to post the video on YouTube, it first must pass the authentication process?

Only if the service itself provides for identification of users.

Critics of the bill say that the ISS creates a new revenue source for operators, who will receive a fee for identification.

— According to experts of the ISS, this identification already in the majority of cases, there is, therefore, not result in any increase in cost. Without entering a phone number to use instant messengers impossible. Identification can be done through SMS or through the portal of public services.

— But now identification must not necessarily go directly through the operators, maybe through SMS aggregators. And aggregators of the price of SMS is lower than that of operators.

— Again, identification is? Conducted. Therefore, the argument associated with the fact that it is not and it suddenly occurs, not applicable. There’s also not defined that, for example, identification must be carried out via SMS. Use identification as you see fit. Another issue is that, usually through SMS to do it better. But this is not a bill.

— According to the bill, the messengers shall, on demand of government agencies to restrict the sending of mass electronic messages. How will this be done?

— A mechanism should be approximately the same as when sending SMS messages. That is, you must first send a request to messenger. If there is a violation, having identified, the regulator will be able to contact the person who is the source mass distribution, the pirate online, the terrorist website is not important, and only if it does not respond to the requirements, the regulator asks operators to stop the story.

— SMS spamming control of the FAS. Who will monitor Postings in the messengers?

— It is assumed that Roskomnadzor.

ISS was founded in 2014 the largest participants of the media and telecommunications industries. Among the participants: national media group, “Gazprom-Media”, “CTC Media”, MTS, “Megaphone”, “VimpelCom”, “Rostelecom”, etc.

“The risk is always there”

Something that you mentioned, will also affect foreign companies that provide service in Russia. How do you make them to fulfill the requirements? For example, Facebook, he also has his own messenger.

And this issue will be resolved at a legal level and on the level of law enforcement. Roskomnadzor has accumulated considerable experience in cooperation with foreign exchanges. Lots of other examples.

— Whether the situation, which will block the purchase and downloading of apps-instant messengers? What about already downloaded?

— Technical issues, of course, a lot. Of course, Roskomnadzor will have to think about the mechanism of regulation. Note that this is not the first bill in this area. It can build on existing experiences of Roskomnadzor or the FAS in adjacent sectors of regulation. But, in fact, the changes do not affect users: they do not need to reinstall the application or further to pass the identification. They regulate the access of instant messengers to the data operators (numbers). It is assumed that concluded with the operators of the agreement will determine the procedure and conditions for the areas of SMS confirmation codes to identify users.

But Facebook, for example, still have not localized the personal data law, as well as Twitter. In fact, the law now is not all executed. There is a risk that the same situation will develop and with the services referred to in the bill of the ISS?

— The risk is always there. But I can’t discuss that executed that is not executed. It is not within my purview.

— You mentioned that one of the purposes of the law — the protection of national content. Can you explain your thought?

— The requirement of “20 to 80” primarily aimed at the fact that it has to be the Russian area, it creates the preconditions for the protection of national content and its spread and distribution. If you ask whether the enactment of this act, the national content immediately protected, the answer is certainly not. In my understanding, this bill is one of the links work for the protection of national content. It is the issues related to the fight against piracy, “mirrors” (additional addresses through which you can get on the same site. — RBC), what are working on now Roscomnadzor and the Ministry of communications. From the final version of the bill eliminated the mandatory share of national production and distribution of only those programs and movies that have a rental license.

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Big-payback: how are communications markets and media

Media and communications Union (MKS) has prepared a bill aimed at regulating the work of instant messengers and online cinemas. As lawmakers changed the rules in the communications markets…

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— Do you think that controlled Russian legal entities will in the first place of the national content?

Is not a question of regulation. It’s a question of market. But in the market we see a trend towards increased production and consumption of domestic content.

Among other things, criticism of the principle of “20 to 80” indicate that the rule will affect search engines, which search results shows videos.

— Yandex as a search engine does not fall. But the fact that “Yandex” has created his own audio-visual service — is a separate issue. We met with the “Yandex”. ISS is ready to consider offers from “Yandex”, but they didn’t arrive.

— Now they will be able to submit their objections? How much are you willing to listen to them?

— Of course, ready. The question is a constructive approach. That is, if colleagues say that the bill is allegedly inconsistent with the Constitution and therefore it is not needed in principle, I think, is not a basis for dialogue. If you give the specific wording, proposal — ready.

— Why did you decide to withdraw from-under actions of the law of audiovisual services of the companies of strategic importance, that is, of operators in the ISS?

— Not to create conflicts with other standards relating to strategic companies. No matter the operators or anyone else. It has its own system of regulation. There are large bills that cover multiple industries. Other major aggregators can consider this a way out from under the proposed regulation.

— The bill also has a provision that amends the so-called law of Spring. Do we understand correctly that it reduces the amount of information that will have to store operators?

— Yes, it makes no sense to duplicate the storage of information at the same time the operators and organizers of information distribution.

— It was discussed that the bill is scheduled to present at the conference Russian Interactive Week (RIW) -2016 November 1? Is that so?

— Our aim is not necessarily to present the bill, because the text is already all too well known, including from the media. All opinions one way or another was expressed. Now it is important to understand and identify where the industry of media communications and its prospects. We want the opening ceremony of the event in 2016 to devote to this topic. The bill we will publish on the website of the ISS.

Pavel Stepanov became President Media and communications Union in August 2016. Also from February 2014, is the CEO of the film company “Central partnership” (enters in “Gazprom-Media”). Earlier, in 2010, was the first Deputy General Director for corporate governance of the FSUE “Russian television and broadcasting network”. In 2004-2010 he held the position of referent of the State legal Directorate of the President of the Russian Federation. In 1999-2004 he was chief of the legal Department of the Ministry of press, broadcasting and mass communications.

What the market thinks about the bill ISS

About the identification of the messengers

In “Yandex” insist that affected all sites, which is the communication of your users with the ability to leave comments, forums, etc.

The messengers are already requesting a mobile phone number when registering a new user. But now they pay for SMS activation of the major aggregators, which send activation codes, told RBC source in one of the most popular instant messengers.

“The aggregator does not issue SIM cards and do not have access to the passport data of the subscriber, i.e. it does not identify — said the representative of the QIWI payment system, which has long identificeret users through mobile operators. — Send SMS via aggregators about 50% cheaper (the amount depends on the arrangements and amounts) than directly using operators.” Expenses of messengers can grow and due to the fact that to identify they will have to send one TEXT, as in the case of an aggregator, but several. After the subscriber has had the opportunity to move from one operator to another with his room, it is impossible to determine to whom to send an SMS for authentication, you will have to send four SMS largest operators”, — says the representative of QIWI.

About limiting the role of foreigners

“The bill may include search services that do not place and do not spread the video content. Amendments equate search engines for audiovisual services, imposing on them duties, for example, pre-moderation of content,” — said in “Yandex”. “It is obvious that for such operating Russian and Russian companies as Mail.Ru Group and “Yandex”, the ban on the participation of foreign capital — this is actually a ban on the creation and development of own services (even if today they don’t and our current services will be withdrawn from the text of the bill). It is obvious that the company, being public, will not change its shareholding structure,” said the Vice-President and technical Director Mail.Ru Group Vladimir Gabrielyan.

According to the Deputy Director of legal Affairs ivi (this online cinema, there are Russian and foreign owners, but the structure not disclosed), Michael Platov, in the case of adoption of law the investor “could maintain or acquire a company, considerably will decrease”. “Such a restriction is not justified even taking into account the analogy that can be carried out with the regulation of the media. Online cinema is a entertainment service that does not generate any social or political agenda,” he said. After the adoption of the amendments to the law “On mass media” the Swedish holding company MTG, which owned 75% of “CTC Media”, was forced to sell them for $200 million to the structures of Alisher Usmanov and Ivan Tavrin. The year before, when the amendments were only introduced in the state Duma, the value of the shares of MTG on the basis of capitalization of “STS Media” on NASDAQ, amounted to more than $1 billion.

With the participation of Anastasia Papanderou