With a wary eye fixed on the likes of CNN, Viacom and Vivendi, Russia’s lower parliamentary body, the Duma, has approved a draft bill banning the holding by foreigners of a controlling stake in any of the nation’s four main TV networks.

This precludes overseas companies from owning more than fifty per cent of the state-managed national networks ORT, RTR and NTV, as well as TV6, owned by indigenous media mogul, Boris Berezovsky, currently in self-imposed exile.

But the bill is less draconian than feared and places no restrictions on ownership or Russian newspapers and radio stations. This is seen as a rebuff to nationalists who had lobbied for a total ban on non-Russian ownership of any media outlet.

The legislation now moves to the Federation Council, Russia’s upper house, whose assent is required prior to receiving the presidential imprimatur.

News source: BBC Online Business News (UK)