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02.04.2023, . 10:48


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Responsibilities of TV and Radio Broadcasting Companies and Editorial Offices of Periodicals in the Election of the President of the Russian Federation A.Postnikov.

Guide for executives and staff members of TV and radio broadcasting companies and editorial offices of periodicals

Introduction

This guide covers legal as well as various practical issues related to the participation of TV and radio companies and editorial offices of periodicals1 in the running of the presidential elections in the Russian Federation. The activity of the electronic and print media during the Presidential elections is regulated by general rules laid down by the laws on the running of election campaigns of all levels and by a special legal regime established by the Federal Law «On the Election of the President of the Russian Federation.»

The Federal Law «On Basic Guarantees of Electoral Rights and the Right of Citizens of the Russian Federation to Participate in a Referendum» of September 19, 1997 as amended and supplemented by the Federal Law of March 30, 1999 as well as the new version of the Federal Law «On the Election of the President of the Russian Federation» dated December 31, 1999 contain fairly detailed provisions regulating TV and radio companies and editorial offices of periodicals in election campaigns for the election of the President of the Russian Federation. Compared to earlier legislative acts establishing, in particular, the procedure for the 1996 presidential elections, the above-mentioned federal laws contain many new provisions specifying the responsibilities of TV and radio broadcasting companies and editorial offices of periodicals and imposing restrictions on their activity. These rules guide both the executives of the electronic and print media and journalists covering election campaigns. They are also mandatory for those directly involved in the electoral process (candidates, electoral associations and electoral blocs) - the partners of TV and radio broadcasting companies and editorial offices of periodicals in the election campaign.

Significant changes have taken place in the role played by administrative regulation of the activity of TV and radio broadcasting companies and editorial offices of periodicals in the elections. In the past, the Central Election Commission of the Russian Federation when administering federal elections issued instructions on the provision of air time on the channels of state-run (public) TV and radio broadcasting companies and on the publication of election propaganda materials in periodicals financed by the state. The new election legislation focuses on regulating election campaigning in the media by means of electoral laws. Therefore, it is the laws, rather than instructions of the Central Election Commission of the Russian Federation, that have to be consulted to find answers to the most important questions concerning participation of the mass media in elections.

However, media activity during elections is regulated not only by electoral legislation. At such time, the Russian Federation Law «On the Mass Media» of December 27, 1991 remains fully effective, although the activity of the mass media during election campaigns has a number of specific features. Special restrictions and responsibilities established for the mass media for the election period are aimed at guaranteeing fair elections, making possible the substantially extended the list of administrative offences in the sphere of media participation free expression of the citizens' will, and ensuring equal legal conditions for candidates, registered candidates, electoral associations and electoral blocs to conduct their election campaigns .

Legal sanctions may be applied to a TV and radio broadcasting company or to the editorial office of a periodical which violates the rules for participation in election campaigns. Such sanctions primarily include administrative penalties that apply to media officials and journalists under the RSFSR Code of Administrative Offences. At present, the amendments and additions introduced to this Code by the Federal Law of January 2, 2000 have in election campaigns and toughened the penalties imposed for such offences.

Key Terms and Concepts

Three categories of terms and concepts are used in this guide.

The first includes the terms and concepts defined in Article 2 of the Federal Law «On Basic Guarantees of Electoral Rights and the Right of Citizens of the Russian Federation to Participate in a Referendum» entitled «Main Terms Used in This Federal Law.»

The second includes the terms and concepts defined in the Federal Law «On the Election of the President of the Russian Federation.»

The third comprises terms that, though not used in election legislation, help the understanding of some technically complex structures of election legislation. They include, in particular, the concept of «regulated media» introduced here.

Regulated media means TV and/or radio broadcasting companies and editorial offices of periodicals having at least one of the following features:

    - the given company or periodical is founded (co-founded) by state or municipal bodies, organizations or institutions;
    - one year before the election is called, at least 15 percent of the company's or periodical's budget was financed from the funds allocated by federal bodies of state power, bodies of state power of Subjects of the Russian Federation, bodies of local self-government.

Under Clause 2, Article 47 of the Federal Law «On the Election of the President of the Russian Federation» regulated media do not include editorial offices of periodicals founded by bodies of legislative (representative), executive and judicial power and by bodies of local self-government for the sole purpose of publishing their official documents and reports, normative and other acts. These publications are not allowed to provide space for publication of election propaganda materials.

In the Federal Law «On Basic Guarantees of Electoral Rights and the Right of Citizens of the Russian Federation to Participate in a Referendum» the regulated media are listed in Clause 1 of Article 39.

Various kinds of regulated media are indicated in Clauses «a» through «e,» Article 47 of the Federal Law «On the Election of the President of the Russian Federation.» They include:

National (»all-Russian») state-run TV and radio broadcasting companies, i.e. TV and radio broadcasting organizations with a stable reception zone extending to half or more than half of the Subjects of the Russian Federation, which are founded (co-founded) by state bodies, organizations, institutions and/or those which in the year preceding the day of official publication of the decision to call (hold) the elections were financed by not less than 15 percent of their budget from funds allocated by federal bodies of state power or bodies of state power of the Subjects of the Russian Federation;

Regional state-run TV and radio broadcasting companies, i.e. TV and radio broadcasting organizations with a stable reception zone extending to less than half of the Subjects of the Russian Federation, which are founded (co-founded) by state bodies, organizations, institutions and/or those which, in the year preceding the day of official publication of the decision to call (hold) the election, were financed by not less than 15 percent of their budget from the funds allocated by federal bodies of state power, bodies of state power of the Subjects of the Russian Federation, as well as the corresponding divisions of national TV and radio broadcasting companies.

Editorial offices of national (»all-Russian») state-run periodicals, i.e. editorial offices of periodicals distributed in the territory of a half or more than a half of the Subjects of the Russian Federation, if these editorial offices or these periodicals are founded (co-founded) by state bodies, organizations, institutions and/or if, in the year preceding the day of official publication of the decision to call (hold) the election, these editorial offices were financed by not less than 15 percent of their budget from funds allocated by federal bodies of state power, bodies of state power of the Subjects of the Russian Federation, save the editorial offices of periodicals indicated in Clause 2, Article 47 of the Law.

Editorial offices of regional state-run periodicals, i.e. editorial offices of periodicals distributed in the territory of less than a half of the Subjects of the Russian Federation, if these editorial offices or these periodicals are founded (co-founded) by state bodies, organizations, institutions and/or if, in the year preceding the day of official publication of the decision to call (hold) the election, these editorial offices were financed by not less than 15 percent of their budget from the funds allocated by federal bodies of state power, bodies of state power of the Subjects of the Russian Federation, save the editorial offices of periodicals indicated in Clause 2, Article 47 of the Law.

Municipal TV and radio broadcasting companies and editorial offices of municipal periodicals, i.e. TV and radio broadcasting organizations and editorial offices of periodicals, if these organizations, periodicals or their editorial offices are founded (co-founded) by bodies of local self-government and/or if, in the year preceding the day of official publication of the decision to call (hold) the election, these organizations, editorial offices were financed by not less than 15 percent of their budget from the funds allocated by bodies of local self-government, save the editorial offices of periodicals indicated in Clause 2, Article 47 of the Law.

Non-state-run TV and radio broadcasting companies and editorial offices of periodicals, i.e. the TV and radio broadcasting organizations and editorial offices of periodicals which do not belong to either state-run or municipal regulated media. Various kinds of these companies and editorial offices (national, regional) are defined in Sub-clauses «f» through «i» of Clause 1, Article 47 of the Law.

Specialized TV and radio broadcasting companies and editorial offices of specialized periodicals. This is a special category of TV and radio broadcasting organizations and editorial offices of periodicals which are classified as a separate group with no regard to their founders and sources of their financing but related to the fact that they specialize in cultural, educational, children's, technical, scientific and other similar themes.

Election campaigning (election propaganda) means any activity by citizens of the Russian Federation, candidates, electoral associations, electoral blocs and public associations intended to induce or inducing voters to take part in the election and to vote for various candidates (lists of candidates) or against them (Article 2 of the Federal Law «On Basic Guarantees of Electoral Rights and the Right of Citizens of the Russian Federation to Participate in a Referendum.») Accordingly, such citizens of the Russian Federation, candidates, electoral associations, electoral blocs and public associations are election campaigners.

Questions and Answers

1. What legislative acts establish additional responsibilities for editorial offices of periodicals and TV and radio broadcasting companies during elections?

During elections at various levels (such as federal, regional, or local) periodicals and TV and radio broadcasting companies are charged with a whole range of additional responsibilities essential for holding open, free and democratic elections.

1.1. The general responsibilities of editorial offices and TV and radio broadcasting companies that apply to all elections held in the Russian Federation are laid down in the Federal Law «On Basic Guarantees of Electoral Rights and the Right of Citizens of the Russian Federation to Participate in a Referendum» dated September 19, 1997, as amended and supplemented by the Federal Law of March 30, 1999. The said Federal Law prevails over other electoral laws.

1.2. The responsibilities of editorial offices of periodicals and TV and radio broadcasting companies with regard to the presidential elections are set forth more concretely in the Federal Law «On the Election of the President of the Russian Federation of December 31, 1999.

1.3. The responsibilities of the editorial offices of periodicals and TV and radio broadcasting companies in elections held in the Subjects of the Russian Federation (such as elections of the chief executive of a Subject of the Russian Federation, deputies of legislative bodies of state power, heads of municipalities, other elected officials of local self-government, and deputies of representative bodies of local self-government) are established by laws of the Subjects of the Russian Federation adopted in accordance with the Federal Law «On Basic Guarantees of Electoral Rights and the Right of Citizens of the Russian Federation to Participate in a Referendum.»

2. What editorial offices of periodicals and what TV and radio broadcasting companies are charged with additional election-related responsibilities? How are such responsibilities differentiated?

2.1. There are many responsibilities of editorial offices of periodicals and TV and radio broadcasting companies that apply equally to all print and electronic media at the time of elections: in particular, this is the duty to prevent misuse of press freedom, to comply with the prescribed periods for election campaigning, to observe rules established for publication of the results of opinion polls, etc.

2.2. At the same time, the regulated media are burdened with the maximum volume of responsibilities related to election campaigning.

In particular, the regulated media are obliged to provide equal conditions for registered candidates to conduct their election campaigns, to grant them free air time and free space on the pages of publications, to publish resolutions of election commissions and information concerning financial transactions performed via special electoral fund accounts of candidates.

2.3. The scope of responsibilities borne by state-run, municipal2 and non-state-run TV and radio broadcasting companies and editorial offices of periodicals in the election of the President of the Russian Federation is not the same. Under the Federal Law «On the Election of the President of the Russian Federation» the state-run and municipal TV and radio broadcasting companies and state-run and municipal editorial offices of periodicals must guarantee registered candidates equal terms and conditions for election campaigning and presentation of their election programs to voters (Clause 2, Article 48 of the Federal Law).

Non-state-run TV and radio broadcasting organizations and editorial offices of non-state-run periodicals may provide air-time or space to registered candidates for a charge (Clause 3, Article 48 of the Federal Law). The relevant procedures are regulated by the Federal Law.

3. How are TV and radio broadcasting companies or editorial offices of periodicals classified as a national (»all-Russian») or regional state-run regulated media?

3.1. Clause 3, Article 47 of the Federal Law «On the Election of the President of the Russian Federation» states that the list of all-Russian state-run TV and radio broadcasting companies and all-Russian state-run periodicals is published by the Central Election Commission of the Russian Federation on the basis of information submitted by the appropriate federal bodies of executive power which formulate and implement state policy in the field of the mass media, not later than the tenth day3 after the day of official publication of the decision to call (hold) the election of the President of the Russian Federation. The said list must make special mention of all-Russian state-run periodicals which come out less frequently than once a week.

3.2. The list of regional state-run TV and radio broadcasting companies and regional state-run periodicals is published by the election commissions of the Subjects of the Russian Federation on the basis of information submitted by the appropriate territorial agencies of federal bodies of executive power which formulate and implement state policy in the field of the mass media, not later than the tenth day after the day of official publication of the decision to call (hold) the election of the President of the Russian Federation. The said list must make special mention of regional state-run periodicals which come out less frequently than once a week.

4. How can TV and radio broadcasting companies and editorial offices of periodicals participate in election campaigning?

4.1. TV and radio broadcasting companies and editorial offices of periodicals are not independent election campaigners. However, anyone can conduct such a campaign through the media provided his right to do so is recognized by law.

4.2. It should be noted that voting members of election commissions, state authorities, bodies of local self-government, charity organizations, religious associations, persons holding government and municipal offices, government and municipal employees, as well as servicemen are not allowed to take part in election campaigning while on duty or by taking advantage of their official position or status (Clause 5, Article 37 of the Federal «On Basic Guarantees of Electoral Rights and the Right of Citizens of the Russian Federation to Participate in a Referendum»). In the Federal Law «On the Election of the President of the Russian Federation» the list of organizations which are forbidden to participate in election campaigning also includes military units, military institutions, and election commissions (Clause 3, Article 44 of the Federal Law).

4.3. Under Clause 8, Article 3 of the Federal Law «On Basic Guarantees of Electoral Rights and the Right of Citizens of the Russian Federation to Participate in a Referendum,» foreign nationals (with the exception of cases where they enjoy electoral rights in municipal elections under an international treaty), stateless persons and foreign legal entities are not allowed to engage in any activity that assists or prevents nomination of any candidates (lists of candidates) or election of any registered candidates (Clause 8, Article 3 of the Federal Law «On Basic Guarantees of Electoral Rights and the Right of Citizens of the Russian Federation to Participate in a Referendum»). Under the Federal Law «On the Election of the President of the Russian Federation» (Article 11) the list of organizations which are forbidden to engage in the said activities also includes international organizations and international public movements. Accordingly, all these organizations are excluded from participation in election campaigning. TV and radio broadcasting companies and editorial offices of periodicals are obliged to make sure that these bans are duly observed.

5. Periods for election campaigning through TV and radio broadcasting companies and periodicals

5.1. Election campaigning through TV and radio broadcasting companies and periodicals may be carried out within the periods established for election campaigning in support of or against candidates. According to the general rule, election campaigning starts on the day when a candidate is registered and ends at midnight, local time, 24 hours prior to voting day. In the event of repeat voting election campaigning is resumed from the day on which the Central Election Commission of the Russian Federation appoints the day for repeat voting and ends at midnight, local time, 24 hours prior to the day of repeat voting (Clauses 1 and 4, Article 45 of the Federal Law «On the Election of the President of the Russian Federation»).

5.2. The Federal Law «On the Election of the President of the Russian Federation» makes special mention of the periods for election campaigning through TV and radio broadcasting companies and periodicals. According to Clause 5, Article 48 of the Federal Law election campaigning on the channels of TV and radio broadcasting organizations may be conducted on working days in the period which commences 30 days prior to voting day and ends one day prior to voting day; election campaigning in periodicals may be conducted in the period which commences 40 days prior to voting day and ends one day prior to voting day. In the event of repeat voting election campaigning on the channels of state-run and municipal TV and radio broadcasting companies and in state-run and municipal periodicals may by conducted on working days in the period which commences two days after repeat voting was declared and ends one day prior to voting day.

Attention should be paid to certain differences in the procedure for calculation of the periods for election campaigning through TV and radio broadcasting companies and periodicals.

Thus, if the number of registered candidates is less than ten, free air time on the channels of the state-run TV and radio broadcasting companies is provided 20 days, rather than 30 days, prior to voting day. No such differences are established for print media.

It is also noteworthy that the period for the provision of paid air-time remains unchanged regardless of the number of candidates (30 days prior to voting day). It should be also kept in mind that the forthcoming elections will be early elections and, therefore, all periods for performance of electoral actions (including election campaigning periods) are reduced by one fourth.

6. What procedure is established for interaction between TV and radio broadcasting companies and periodicals and the election commissions?

6.1. The national and regional state-run TV and radio broadcasting companies and editorial offices of national and regional periodicals are obliged to offer an opportunity to election commissions to present their information intended for publication, and to provide free air time to them in order to advise the voters about the timing and procedure of electoral actions, the progress of the on-going election campaign, candidates, registered candidates and also to respond to voters' questions.

6.2. Under Clause 17, Article 23 of the Federal Law «On the Election of the President of the Russian Federation» during the period of the preparation and conduct of the election of the President of the Russian Federation4, every week the national TV and radio broadcasting companies must provide not less than 15 minutes of free air time to the Central Election Commission of the Russian Federation and the regional TV and radio broadcasting organizations not less than 10 minutes of free air time to the election commissions of the Subjects of the Russian Federation on their channels.

6.3. Under Clause 18, Article 23 of the Federal Law «On the Election of the President of the Russian Federation» during the period of the preparation and conduct of the election of the President of the Russian Federation the editorial offices of national periodicals coming out at least once a week must provide, free of charge, not less than one percent of their weekly space to the Central Election Commission of the Russian Federation. During the same period, the editorial offices of regional periodicals coming out at least once a week must provide, free of charge, not less than one percent of their weekly space to the election commissions of the Subjects of the Russian Federation.

6.4. Other TV and radio broadcasting companies, editorial offices of other periodicals and their officials are obliged to provide the necessary information and documents to election commissions for the election of the President of the Russian Federation, respond to requests of election commissions within five days, while one day prior to election day and on election day, immediately (Clause 8, Article 12 of the Federal Law «On the Election of the President of the Russian Federation»). It should be also borne in mind that documents and resolutions of election commissions taken within the scope of their competence are mandatory for all TV and radio broadcasting companies and editorial offices of periodicals

7. The procedure for provision of free air-time by TV and radio broadcasting companies

7.1. The state-run TV and radio broadcasting companies are required to provide free air-time to registered candidates. This air time must be provided to registered candidates on equal terms and conditions (with regard to the length of air time, timing and other terms and conditions) (Clause 1, Article 49 of the Federal Law «On the Election of the President of the Russian Federation»).

7.2. Any expenses incurred by TV and radio broadcasting companies in the provision of free air-time to registered candidates are covered from the current budgetary funding of the relevant broadcasting organization.

7.3. Free air-time to be provided by each national TV and radio broadcasting company for election campaigning must total at least one hour daily on working days during the election campaigning period prescribed for these organizations. During the corresponding period regional TV and radio broadcasting companies must allocate at least 30 minutes of free air-time on working days, or at least one-fourth of the total broadcasting time if the total daily broadcasting time is under two hours.

7.4. The law provides that free air-time must be provided in broadcast periods viewed or listened to by the greatest number of persons.

7.5. Registered candidates may determine the form and nature of their election campaigning on the channels of TV and radio broadcasting companies at their own discretion, provided these forms are not banned by law (Clause 2, Article 44 of the Federal Law «On the Election of the President of the Russian Federation»). At the same time, federal laws establish some exceptions from this rule. Thus, under Clause 6, Article 49 of the Federal Law «On the Election of the President of the Russian Federation» one half (or, in the event of repeat voting, two-thirds) of the total length of free air-time made available by the state-run TV and radio broadcasting companies must be used by registered candidates for joint debates, «roundtables» and other joint campaigning events of a similar kind. All registered candidates must be allowed to use this part of free air-time on equal conditions. The Federal Law establishes how air-time is to be used if a registered candidate (candidates) refuses to make use of free air-time allocated for joint campaigning events (Clause 7, Article 49 of the Federal Law). In the parliamentary elections, if only one candidate showed up for the debate, the debate was cancelled but this candidate, too, was deprived of the possibility to use his/her share of air-time. The presidential election law deals with this situation in a different manner. Now, if only one candidate shows up for the debate, he/she may use his/her share of the allocated air-time.

The remaining free air-time is distributed by means of lot-drawing to be organized by election commissions in a procedure established by the Federal Law. Under this law not less than three-fourths of free air-time made available to a registered candidate must be used by the candidate for his/her speeches, press conferences, interviews (Clause 9, Article 49 of the Federal Law «On the Election of the President of the Russian Federation»). This restricts the total extent of political advertising.

The date and time when election propaganda materials are to be aired are determined by drawing lots. Lot-drawing to distribute air-time on the channels of the national TV and radio broadcasting companies is organized by the Central Election Commission of the Russian Federation, to distribute air-time on the channel of regional TV and radio broadcasting companies, by election commissions of the Subjects of the Russian Federation.

8. The procedure for provision of paid air-time by TV and radio broadcasting companies

8.1. Different procedures are established for provision of paid air-time by the state-run, municipal and non-state-run TV and radio broadcasting companies. The state-run TV and radio broadcasting companies are required to reserve paid air-time for registered candidates to carry on their election campaigning. The total length of paid air time so reserved must not be less than the total length of free air-time but must not exceed this air-time more than twice. Each registered candidate is entitled, for a charge, to use the reserved air time within its share given by the division of the total length of reserved air time by the total number of registered candidates (Clauses 12, 13, Article 49 of the Federal Law «On the Election of the President of the Russian Federation»). Therefore, all registered candidates are entitled to equal shares of the reserved paid air-time. It should be noted that the law does not require paid air-time (unlike free air-time) to be provided only in the prime hours.

8.2. Municipal TV and radio broadcasting companies which have published in advance the information concerning the length of air-time and terms of payment therefor as prescribed by law provide air-time to registered candidates for election campaigning for a charge. The rates and terms of payment must be the same for all registered candidates but the total length of air-time to be made available to registered candidates is determined by the municipal TV and radio broadcasting company at its own discretion (Clause 15, Article 49 of the Federal Law «On the Election of the President of the Russian Federation»).

8.3. Non-state-run TV and radio broadcasting companies which have published in advance the information concerning the length of air-time and terms of payment therefor as prescribed by law must provide air-time to registered candidates for election campaigning on equal terms and conditions (Clause 17, Article 49 of the Federal Law «On the Election of the President of the Russian Federation»). The law does not establish an opportunity for these TV and radio companies to refuse provision of air-time to some registered candidates or to provide air-time to some of them on a discriminatory basis. The TV and radio broadcasting companies which have failed to comply with the aforementioned terms and conditions for provision of air-time to candidates are not allowed to provide any air-time to any registered candidates for election campaigning. So, either to all on equal terms and conditions or to no one.

8.4. Paid air-time is provided upon the request of a registered candidate. To determine the date and time for airing election propaganda materials of each of registered candidates the state-run and the municipal TV and radio broadcasting companies organize lot-drawing in a procedure established by the Federal Law. Non-state-run TV and radio broadcasting companies are not obliged to use such lot-drawing. Air-time is provided on the basis of a contract for provision of paid air-time to be concluded between the TV and radio broadcasting company and the registered candidate. The information concerning the rates and terms of payment for air-time must be published by the TV and radio broadcasting company not later than 30 days or 22 days (in the event of early election) after the day of official publication of the decision to call (hold) the election of the President of the Russian Federation. This information along with the notice of readiness to provide air-time to registered candidates is submitted by the national TV and radio broadcasting companies to the Central Election Commission of the Russian Federation and by the regional and municipal TV and radio companies to the election commission of the Subject of the Russian Federation.

8.5. Registered candidates have full discretion to determine the manner in which they will use paid air-time. The Federal Law «On the Election of the President of the Russian Federation» establishes the conditions for and consequences of the refusal of a registered candidate to use paid air-time after lot-drawing (Clause 16, Article 49 of the Federal Law).

8.6. In all cases, irrespective of the nature of the TV and radio broadcasting company, all air-time payments must only be made through electoral funds of registered candidates, with the due amounts to be paid in full before any air-time is provided.

9. Requirements to contracts for provision of paid air time to registered candidates; performance of such contracts

9.1. The contract must be drawn up in keeping with the Civil Code of the Russian Federation and with due regard for the mandatory requirements laid down in the Federal Law «On the Election of the President of the Russian Federation.»

9.2. Clause 19, Article 49 of the Federal Law «On the Election of the President of the Russian Federation» provides that any contract for the provision of paid air time must set out the following terms and conditions: the type (form) of election campaigning; the airing date and time; the length of air time to be provided; the rates and terms of payment; the form and conditions of participation of a journalist (moderator) in the TV or radio program. After the terms of the contract have been carried out a work performance record and a certificate of the used air time must be drawn up, which confirm the performance of contractual obligations and indicate the broadcast channel, the name of the program and its airing time. The Federal Law likewise establishes that, in case any registered candidate breaches any provision of the said Federal Law when using the paid air time, the relevant TV and radio broadcasting company may apply to a court for canceling the contract for provision of paid air. Should the contract be so cancelled, the TV and radio broadcasting company is not allowed to use the released air-time for election campaigning purposes.

The law does not prohibit conclusion of such contracts via intermediaries. Practical experience from the parliamentary elections has shown that all main broadcasting organizations were selling their air-time through various advertising agencies. In such cases, a contract of agency or commission must be concluded between the TV and radio broadcasting company and the intermediary (advertising agency).

10. The procedures for provision of free space by print media

10.1. In the election of the President of the Russian Federation registered candidates are entitled to free space in the national state-run periodicals which come out at least once a week, the said space to be provided to them on equal terms and conditions (size of the space to be provided, place on the page, type, etc.) (Clause 1, Article 50 of the Federal Law «On the Election of the President of the Russian Federation»).

10.2. The total weekly minimum amount of space which the editorial office of each national state-run periodical is to provide to registered candidates free of charge must be not less than 5 percent of the total weekly volume of the given publication in the period established for election campaigning in such mass media. The editorial office of the periodical must declare the total amount of space to be provided for election campaigning purposes in this periodical free of charge not later than 20 days after official publication of the decision to call (hold) the election.

10.3. Under the Federal Law «On the Election of the President of the Russian Federation» lot-drawing to determine the dates for free publication of election propaganda materials of registered candidates is organized by the editorial office of the national state-run periodical with the participation of interested persons within a week after the end of registration of the candidates (Clauses 5, 6, Article 50 of the Federal Law).

10.4. When propaganda materials are published free of charge, the item so published must contain an express reference to the fact that it is carried free, plus an indication as to which registered candidate has been given an opportunity to publish the material (Clause 19, Article 50 of the Federal Law «On the Election of the President of the Russian Federation»).

10.5. The expenses incurred by editorial offices of national state-run periodicals in provision of free space to registered candidates for election campaigning purposes are covered from current budgetary funding of these editorial offices (Clause 7, Article 50 of the Federal Law «On the Election of the President of the Russian Federation»).

10.6. Registered candidates have full discretion to determine the manner in which they will use the space provided to them in periodicals free of charge (Clause 2, Article 44 of the Federal Law «On the Election of the President of the Russian Federation»).

11. The procedure for provision of paid space by print media

11.1. In the election of the President of the Russian Federation the editorial offices of national state-run periodicals and regional state-run periodicals which come out at least once a week are obliged to reserve space for publication of election propaganda materials of registered candidates on a paid basis. The rates and terms of payment must be the same for all registered candidates. The relevant information must be published in a procedure established by law not later than 30 days from the day of official publication of the decision to call (hold) the election of the President of the Russian Federation and must be submitted, along with a notice of readiness to provide space to registered candidates, to the Central Election Commission of the Russian Federation (for national publications), the election commission of the Subject of the Russian Federation (for regional and municipal publications). The total amount of paid space to be reserved by the editorial office of each national state-run periodical must not be less than the total amount of free space to be made available for election campaigning but must not exceed this amount more than twice. The total weekly minimum space to be reserved by the editorial office of each regional state-run periodical for provision to registered candidates must be not less than 5 percent of the total weekly space of the given periodical in the election campaigning period. Each registered candidate is entitled to a share of the total reserved space given by the division of the total amount of reserved space by the total number of registered candidates (Clauses 8, 9, Article 50 of the Federal Law «On the Election of the President of the Russian Federation»).

The date for the publication of election propaganda materials is determined by means of lot-drawing to be organized by the editorial office of the periodical with the participation of interested persons on the basis of written applications for participation in the lot-drawing submitted by registered candidates. Space is provided on the basis of a contract concluded after lot-drawing (Clause 10, Article 50 of the Federal Law «On the Election of the President of the Russian Federation»).

11.2. Editorial offices of municipal periodicals as well as editorial offices of state-run periodicals coming out less frequently than once a week, which have published information concerning the rates and the terms of payment for space as prescribed by law provide space to registered candidates for a charge. The total amount of space to be so provided is determined by the editorial offices at their own discretion. The publication dates are determined by means of lot-drawing to be organized by the editorial offices with the participation of interested persons on the basis of written applications for participation in the lot-drawing to be submitted by registered candidates. After lot-drawing, space is provided on the basis of a contract (Clause 11, Article 50 of the Federal Law «On the Election of the President of the Russian Federation»).

11.3. Editorial offices of non-state-run periodicals which have published information concerning the rates and the terms of payment for space as prescribed by law are obliged to provide space to registered candidates on equal payment terms. The law stresses that these editorial offices may refuse to provide space to a registered candidate. If these editorial offices fail to meet the requirements of the law relating to the procedure for provision of space on their pages, they are not allowed to provide space for election campaigning purposes to any registered candidates (Clause 13, Article 50 of the Federal Law «On the Election of the President of the Russian Federation»). At the same time, under Clause 18, Article 50 of the Federal Law the requirement that space in periodicals be made available on equal terms of payment does not apply to editorial offices of periodicals, if the given editorial office and/or periodical is founded by a registered candidate (registered candidates), an electoral association, electoral bloc which nominated a registered candidate, and the periodical is not run by the state.

11.4. In all cases, regardless of the nature of the periodical, payment for space in periodicals must be made only through the electoral funds of registered candidates, with the due amount to be paid in full before space is provided to them (Clauses 15, 16 of the Federal Law «On the Election of the President of the Russian Federation»).

The materials published by periodicals with their publication paid for from the electoral fund of a registered candidate must indicate the registered candidate from whose electoral fund the given publication has been paid for. (Clause 19, Article 50 of the Federal Law «On the Election of the President of the Russian Federation»).

11.5. Registered candidates have full discretion to determine the manner in which they will use paid space provided to them in periodicals (Clause 2, Article 44 of the Federal Law «On the Election of the President of the Russian Federation»).

12. Keeping records of provision of air-time and print space. Tape-recording of TV and radio programs containing election propaganda

12.1. Under Clause 8, Article 48 of the Federal Law «On the Election of the President of the Russian Federation» TV and radio broadcasting companies and editorial offices of periodicals which provided free and paid air-time and space to registered candidates are required to keep separate records of the amount and cost of this air-time and space according to the forms established by the Central Election Commission of the Russian Federation. Five days prior to voting day and within five days after voting day, the data of these records must be submitted to, respectively, the Central Election Commission of the Russian Federation and the election commissions of the Subjects of the Russian Federation. These commissions may also request documents confirming the consent of registered candidates to the provision of paid services and their consent to pay for the services.

12.2. Under Clause 26, Article 49 of the Federal Law «On the Election of the President of the Russian Federation» TV and radio programs which contain election propaganda materials distributed by TV and radio broadcasting companies must be aired with simultaneous video and audio recording of the program. These recordings must be kept by the given TV and radio broadcasting organization for 12 months from the day on which the corresponding programs were aired. TV and radio broadcasting companies are required to keep accounting records concerning provision of free and paid air-time for five years after voting day.

13. Conditions for participation of specialized TV and radio broadcasting companies and specialized periodicals in election campaigning

Specialized TV and radio broadcasting companies and editorial offices of specialized (cultural, educational, children's, technical, scientific and other) periodicals may refuse to highlight the election campaign (i.e., refuse to assume an obligation to provide paid and free air time and space, imposed on the regulated media). According to Clause 7, Article 48 of the Federal Law «On the Election of the President of the Russian Federation» such refusal will be signified by non-presentation to the appropriate election commission of the notice of readiness to provide air-time, space to registered candidates.

14. Requirements to the form and substance of the information printed/aired by periodicals/TV and radio broadcasting companies during the election time

The Federal Law «On Basic Guarantees of Electoral Rights and the Right of Citizens of the Russian Federation to Participate in a Referendum» and the Federal Law «On the Election of the President of the Russian Federation» establish a number of special requirements as regards the form and substance of information printed or aired by the periodicals and TV and radio broadcasting companies during the election time.

14.1. Neutrality. Under the Federal Law «On the Election of the President of the Russian Federation» (Clause 25, Article 49) in TV and radio news programs reports concerning election campaigning events organized by candidates, registered candidates and their agents, electoral associations, electoral blocs and initiative groups of voters must be always presented in the form of separate items, as a rule in the beginning of such programs, and without any comments. Such news items are not to be paid for by candidates, registered candidates and their agents, electoral associations, electoral blocs, or initiative groups of voters. They must not give preference to any candidate or registered candidate, specifically, as regards the time devoted to highlighting their election campaigning activities. This, in effect, means that TV and radio broadcasting companies must remain politically neutral during the election campaign and are not allowed to conduct their own election campaigning. As regards print media, Clause 17, Article 50 of the Federal Law «On the Election of the President of the Russian Federation» additionally provides that publication of election propaganda materials must not be accompanied by editorial comments in any form whatsoever or by headlines or illustrations that have not been agreed in advance with respective registered candidates. This Federal Law also establishes that transmission of election propaganda materials of a registered candidate must not be interrupted, in particular, by commercials advertising goods and services and that the channels of the national state-run TV and radio broadcasting companies must not broadcast other TV and radio programs or other election propaganda materials during transmission of election propaganda materials of registered candidates (Clauses 23, 24, Article 49).

14.2. Public opinion polls. The laws establish a set of special rules for the mass media to publicize the data of opinion polls, forecasts of election results and other election-related studies during election time. Under Clause 1, Article 46 of the Federal Law «On the Election of the President of the Russian Federation» when publishing (making public) the results of public opinion polls related to the election of the President of the Russian Federation, the mass media must indicate the organization which conducted the poll, the time when it was conducted, the number of respondents (sample), the method for the collection of information, the precise formulation of the question and the statistical margin of error. Within three days prior to voting day and on voting day the mass media are not allowed to publish any information about the results of public opinion polls, any forecasts concerning the results of the election of the President of the Russian Federation, any other studies related to the election (Clause 3, Article 46).

The Federal Law «On the Election of the President of the Russian Federation» (Clause 2, Article 46) provides that after the last day of candidates' registration the organizations which conduct opinion polls related to the election of the President of the Russian Federation for publication of their data in the mass media and the organizations which publish the data of such opinion polls and forecasts concerning the election results must furnish copies of these publications to the Central Election Commission of the Russian Federation for the formation of a data bank from which information must be made available on request to members of the Central Election Commission of the Russian Federation, registered candidates and their agents and authorized representatives for financial matters, media representatives and to foreign (international) observers for examination and copying.

14.3. Advertising of election campaigners' business and other activities and relevant payment procedures. Under the Federal Law «On the Election of the President of the Russian Federation» (Clause 3, Article 53) during the election campaign the business and other activities of candidates, registered candidates and their agents and authorized representatives for financial matters, electoral associations, electoral blocs, initiative groups of voters and the organizations whose founders, owners, possessors and/or whose governing or supervisory bodies include the said persons and organizations may be advertised only in the period when election campaigning is allowed and only for the account of the appropriate electoral fund of the candidate (registered candidate) with observance of the provisions of the Federal Law requiring equal payment terms. Such advertising is not allowed on voting day and the day preceding voting day.

14.4. Protection of candidates' honor, dignity and business reputation. Under Clause 4, Article 53 of the Federal Law «On the Election of the President of the Russian Federation» when highlighting the election campaign TV and radio programs on the channels of TV and radio broadcasting companies and the editorial offices of periodicals must not publicize information that may damage the honor, dignity or business reputation of a registered candidate (registered candidates) if these TV and radio programs and editorial offices of periodicals cannot, free of charge, offer the registered candidate (registered candidates) an opportunity to make public (publish) a denial or some other explanation in defense of his/her (their) honor, dignity or business reputation before the end of the election campaigning period. The failure to offer such an opportunity makes these TV and radio broadcasting companies, editorial offices of periodicals and their officials prosecutable under law. At the same time, the Federal Law provides that the aforementioned rules do not apply to editorial offices of periodicals if the editorial office and/or the periodical are founded by the electoral association or electoral bloc which nominated the registered candidates and the periodical is not run by the state.

14.5. Independence of registered candidates in choosing the form and nature of their campaigning through TV and radio companies and periodicals. In accordance with Clause 2, Article 44 of the Federal Law «On the Election of the President of the Russian Federation» registered candidates conducting election campaigning on the channels of TV and radio broadcasting companies and on the pages of periodicals are entitled to select the form and nature of their election campaigning at their own discretion, within the limits of the forms provided by law and other forms which are not prohibited by law.

15. Obligations of the state-run periodicals to publish information concerning operations with the resources of the electoral funds

The editorial offices of state-run periodicals are required to publish information concerning the sums contributed to and spent from the electoral funds, passed on to them by the Central Election Commission of the Russian Federation. The following information is subject to mandatory publication:

    (a) information about any financial transaction which involves expenditure of money from the electoral fund in an amount exceeding by more than 2 thousand times the minimum monthly wage established by the federal law as of the date of official publication of the decision to call (hold) the election of the President of the Russian Federation5;
    (b) information about legal entities which donated sums to an electoral fund in an amount exceeding by more than one thousand times the minimum monthly wage;
    (c) information about the number of individuals who have made donations to the electoral fund, which exceed by more than 100 times the minimum monthly wage;
    (d) information about the sums returned to donors and the reasons for the return;
    (e) information about the sum total of contributions to and expenditures from the electoral fund (Clause 6, Article 58 of the Federal Law «On the Election of the President of the Russian Federation»).

16. Obligations of the media personnel participating in election campaigns

16.1. All registered candidates holding mass media jobs must be relieved of their official duties for as long as they participate in the election of the President of the Russian Federation. Within three days of their registration, they must submit to the Central Election Commission of the Russian Federation a notarized copy of the appropriate order or directive temporarily relieving them of their official duties or copies of the documents evidencing that they have tendered their resignation within this period. In addition, in the course of their election campaigning they are not allowed to take advantage of their official position or status (Clause 3, Article 40 of the Federal Law «On the Election of the President of the Russian Federation»). In particular, taking advantage of one's official position or status is understood to include privileged access (compared to other registered candidates) or provision of privileged access to the public media for collecting voter signatures or election campaigning (Sub-clause «f», Clause 4, Article 35 of the Federal Law).

16.2. Officials, journalists and creative staff of TV and radio broadcasting companies and editorial offices of print media are not allowed to participate in highlighting the election campaign through the mass media if these persons are registered candidates or their agents, authorized representatives for financial matters of registered candidates, or authorized representatives of initiative groups of voters which nominated registered candidates (Clause 6, Article 40 of the Federal Law).

17. Adjudication of disputes related to election campaigning via the mass media

Disputes related to election campaigning via mass media are adjudicated by election commissions and courts of law.

At the same time, some disputes related to election campaigning via the mass media are submitted to the Judicial Chamber for Information Disputes under the President of the Russian Federation. The Chamber operates in accordance with Regulations approved by Decree of the President of the Russian Federation dated January 31, 1994.

The Judicial Chamber for Information Disputes may adjudicate information-related disputes and other cases either at the request of the parties concerned or on its own initiative. Appropriate petitions may be presented to the Judicial Chamber by individuals, mass media and election commissions.

Members of the Judicial Chamber may ask government authorities and editorial offices of print media to furnish any materials necessary for the Judicial Chamber to perform its functions. Provision of such materials is mandatory. The Judicial Chamber for Information Disputes may require from media executives, other officials or journalists written explanations regarding any unethical acts they commit.

Overall, the decisions of the Judicial Chamber are advisory and do not have the legal force of a court judgment. However, government authorities and their officials to whom any ruling of the Judicial Chamber is addressed must advise the Judicial Chamber of compliance with such a ruling within two weeks. The Judicial Chamber may apply to the respective authorities requesting them to issue written warnings to the founder and/or the editorial office (editor-in chief) under Article 16 of the Law of the Russian Federation «On Mass Media», and may petition a court of law to close down any mass media whose founder and/or the editorial office (editor-in chief) have been given written warnings within the time established by the Law.

18. Liability of the mass media for violation of election campaigning rules

Clause 6, Article 53 of the Federal Law «On the Election of the President of the Russian Federation» establishes that in the case of a TV and radio broadcasting company or the editorial office of a periodical violating the election campaigning rules laid down by the Federal Law, the Central Election Commission of the Russian Federation or the election commission of the Subject of the Russian Federation may apply to law enforcement bodies, courts of law or executive bodies of state power which implement state policy in the field of mass media requesting them to put an end to the unlawful propaganda activities and penalize the TV and radio broadcasting company, the editorial office of the periodical or their officials as provided by the law of the Russian Federation.

In particular, liability for various violations in the sphere of election campaigning is established by the RSFSR Code of Administrative Offences.

Alexander Postnikov,
Doctor of Law


1 In this text «periodical» means any publication issued at regular intervals, including newspapers.

2 The definition of the media as «state-run» (or public) and «municipal» is rather tentative because both state-run and municipal media may include organizations that are not owned by the state or municipalities but are partially financed from the respective budgets.

3 Here and below it should be borne in mind that, according to Clause 6, Article 5 of the Federal Law «»On the Election of the President of the Russian Federation» in the event of early elections of the President of the Russian Federation the periods for the performance of electoral actions established by this Federal Law are reduced by one-fourth.

4 Apparently, this period begins from the day of official publication of the decision to call the election.

5 hereafter «the minimum monthly wage.»

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