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PDA Letter to the State Duma of the Russian Federation Federal Assembly Chairman Boris Gryzlov

Mr. B. Gryzlov

Chairman of the State Duma of the

Russian Federation Federal Assembly

Dear Mr. Gryzlov

 

 


We inform you that PDA with the assistance of the Civic Chamber Commission for Communications, Information Policy and Freedom of Expression in Mass Media held Subscription Today and Tomorrow roundtable on March 2nd, 2010, at the Civic Chamber of Russian Federation. More than sixty representatives from publishing houses, the State Duma, Federal agencies, Federal State Unitary Enterprise Russian Post, as well as the leaders of other subscription agencies, mass media market experts, and journalists attended the roundtable.

 

Newspaper and magazine subscriptions are an important part of the periodicals distribution system and are essential to ensuring the citizens’ constitutional rights to have access to accurate information. Hence, all the roundtable participants agreed that the main objective right now is ensuring that the institution of subscription has all the support it can get.

A constructive discussion on the current state of subscription market and the reasons preventing its growth and development took place at the roundtable. In particular, the fact that a significant number of citizens, particularly those living in rural areas, cannot afford to subscribe to periodicals due to the high subscription rates was discussed. So far, Russia is the only country in the world where subscription price of a publication is higher than its retail price, and taxes on subscription are almost twice as high as taxes in retail distribution. Roundtable participants proposed using other countries’ model where the state actively supports print mass media. For example, the French government and personally President Sarkozy take significant financial and legislative measures to ensure the industry’s well-being. In 2009, 600 million Euros from the French state budget was set aside for traditional mass media. In November 2010 the French Senate approved an amendment to the state budget for 2011, according to which value added tax for e-books will be the same as for print publications – 5.5%. French senators believe that the low rate of VAT will allow the growth and development of legal e-book market.

Most of roundtable participants agreed that industry’s existing problems can be only solved through coordinated actions of all the interested market participants such as the government, publishers, Russian Post, and subscription agencies.

Given the social significance of subscription, the roundtable participants suggested taking additional legal measures (similar to ones taken by other countries but adjusted for the specifics of the Russian subscription market) to support and protect the subscription part of the periodicals distribution system. Such measures can include but are not limited to:


- Adding a provision that will legally give subscription a status of an important part of the print mass media distribution system to the article 25 “On Mass Media” of the Federal Law;


- Amending the Tax Code of the Russian Federation in order to reduce the VAT rate on services such as forwarding and delivery of subscription newspaper and magazine circulations, except for publications with explicit content and advertising publications;


- Making provision for financing of free subscriptions for children and young adults reaching the age of 18 in the Russian Federation budget;


- Establishing the same rules for catalogue and online subscriptions by making appropriate amendments to the Federal Law "On Consumer Rights".

After due consideration, the roundtable participants adopted the "Guidelines for the preservation and development of subscription in the Russian Federation".

Mr Gryzlov, your support of the above proposals would be greatly appreciated. On our end, we are ready to actively participate in drafting amendments to the above-mentioned legislations.

 

Source: PDA Press Service