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Russian “First channel” accused “grand three” of mobile operators of piracy

“First channel”, one of the major channel in Russia, has accused Russian mobile operators (Russian mobile services (MTS), Megafon and Vimpelcom (Beeline)) of illegal distribution of its content in internet. Such “distribution” causes a loss in advertisement revenues for First channel. But mobile operators from the “Grand Three” believe they don’t infringe First Channel’s copyright – everything is in accordance with law.

As declared Ilya Bulavinov from First Channel, operators of “Grand Three” stream First Channel’s broadcast in internet without proper permission from Channel. “Unfortunately, we must establish that despite the position of Ministry of communication, supposedly not pirate companies, major Russian telecoms, such as MegaFon, MTS and Beeline still stream our broadcast without our permission and awareness.” – he said. First Channel counts on peaceful resolution of “problem”, without court’s participation. “Colleagues should take our content and integrate there our advertisement. We lose our patience. I address our colleagues to make it till the end of the year, to bring their content in accordance with our requirements.”

MTS denied all accusations. Representative Dmitry Solodovnikov explained that MTS broadcasts all channels in app MTS TV “in strictly accordance with current legislation” and offers their subscribers access to streaming provided by First Channel, “including (access) to all integrated advertising blocks”. “In order to harmonise the format of broadcasting by MTS it has been negotiated with First Channel and MTS received confirmation in writing from channel stating that broadcasting in app MTS TV is correct”.

Megafon also broadcast “strictly in accordance with current legislation” and is “in conversation with First Channel”. Beeline (company Vimpelcom) stated that “under current law a publicly available content is to be distributed in all available environments, what exactly operators do”.

Operators believe that under article 32 of the law “about mass media” distribution of all-Russian publicly available channels, including First Channel, is to be unaltered. MTS believes it relates also to OTT services (like online cinemas).

Ilya Bulavinov clarified that some right holders, mostly foreign, providing the First Channel with rights in content, require separate remuneration for online broadcast. In some cases the channel does not acquire rights in content for online environment. It is not reasonable for channel because advertising revenues do not cover expenditure on purchase of rights. “Therefore we make a “bung” in our player on our site instead of content where we don’t have rights for online broadcasting. This bung states that it is impossible to view content. OTT services of “Grand Three” do not make such bung, they broadcast as it is live, even if they don’t have relevant rights to do it. Thus the “Grand Three” gets competitive advantage: a viewer prefers to watch first channel through their OTT services, instead of our site.”

First Channel also is not happy with one thing – it does not receive anything for advertisement demonstrated in OTT services of operators. “There also is broadcasted an advertisement, but it is not counted. We asked operators to stream our broadcast and advertisement intended for such environment” – said representative of First Channel.