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TV channels can cut off telecom operators from their broadcast

The Russian TV channels are very concerned when their broadcast is available in internet without their permission. The ad revenues, generated by such broadcast, flow to the packets of providers making TV channels’ broadcast available in internet. Besides TV channels don’t always have online rights for certain programming they broadcast. TV channels want control online consuming of their programming, including ad revenue generating by online broadcasting, the ad revenues generated by traditional TV decreasing each year.

Therefore major TV channels decided to create the sole platform with their own media player where their programming and broadcast would be available for online audience. Anyone who wish broadcast their programs should connect to this platform (called TV Vitrina) and accept conditions, defined by the channels and mandatory for all users. Telecommunication operators, who provides online broadcasting of TV channels and insert their own advertising, don’t hurry up to connect to this platform and accept new conditions.

The Russian TV channels decided to help telecommunication operators and made first step. They sent operators the letter with condition – if operators don’t connect to platform, don’t accept new conditions and wouldn’t stream broadcast through platform’s media player, the TV channels would cut off operators from their broadcast. But it is not so simple, as it seems. TV channels buy rights and invest in producing of programs and want to recoup their investments. The state channels (major federal channels) did not sent such letter.

Telecommunication operators, like any company with broadcasting licence, must provide their subscribers with 20 public channels under Russian broadcasting law. Therefore the telecom operators take broadcasting of TV channels and transmit they online. TV channels claim they don’t have all necessary rights for online transmissions, therefore telecom operators may infringe copyright in certain programs (music, audio-visual content) where the copyright has been not cleared.

Besides if the TV channels buy and clear online rights for their broadcasting, telecom operators, streaming this broadcasting on their platforms as a part of mandatory package of 20 publicly available chennels, would not pay TV channel for exploitation of copyright cleared by TV channel for its programms. Therefore TV channels have required telecom operators to cease and desist streaming of their broadcasting, interrupt broadcasting (for example, to insert operator’s advertising), and to take money from subscribers of telecom operators for access to such streaming.

If the telecom operators wish stream broadcasting of TV channels they should connect to TV Vitrina. Currently the law on so called TV Vitrina is under consideration in Russian state duma. Under this law in order to stream publicly available broadcasting the telecom operator must conclude agreement only with specual accredited organisation. Such organisation should be TV Vitrina. So the TV channels can’t wait when the law would be adopted and decided to make everything de-facto – to connect telecom operators to TV Vitrina without this law.

The official position of Russian ministry of communication is very simple – the broadcasting law in the part of 20 publicly available channels does not cover OTT platforms, in other words telecom operators can stream broadcasting of TV channels only with channels’ permission, otherwise it is infringement. Telecom operators certainly don’t want to bear additional costs linked to licence from TV channels for streaming of their broadcasting. Some operators believe their stream broadcasting in order to ensure subscribers’ right on information, some believe it is solicitation from the side of TV channels.

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