Alcohol back on pages

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The Ministry of Communications has supported liberalization of the media market by proposing to lift restrictions on advertising of alcohol in the media. In addition, the Ministry has promised to help with the introduction of the Russian media products into foreign markets. Experts believe that advertising of alcohol will help the media survive in crisis and that the Russian television and film industries have good prospects in China.

On Wednesday the Deputy Minister of Communications and Mass Media Alexei Volin submitted an anti-crisis plan for the media industry. It was reported on the site ofthe Ministry.

According to the plan, the industry should "earn more and spend less".

Among the sources of additional earnings the Ministry names increasing of the share of paid services, the fight against piracy and improving of the content quality. Firing ineffective employees, limitations on salary increase in the movie industry and contracts in national currency only may help reduce costs.

However, the large-scale liberalization of the advertising market should be the most important point of the anti-crisis plan.

As part of the anti-crisis plan the Ministry of Communications offers to lift restrictions on advertising of alcohol in the media (it was banned on January 1, 2013). In addition, the Ministry offers to resume advertising of prescription medicines and dietary supplements shifting responsibility for the truthfulness of information from the publisher to the advertiser.

Moreover, radio and television programs for children will be allowed to broadcast commercials and print media will be allowed to rise the share of advertisement pages.

The Ministry also intends to introduce the term "teleshopping" which will not be counted in the total advertising time and to manage all the issues with product placement and information cooperation.

Alexei Volin noted that the liberalization of the advertising market will involve all the media. "Proposals on this issue are already prepared. The terms and conditions depend on the deputy corps," he underlined.

Media market players responded positively to the lifted restrictions on advertising.

"Over the past few years the market lost more than 50 billion rubles due to the restrictions and any liberalization will be advantageous for the domestic media industry. And support for retail sales of the print media will be of an additional help to the weakest segment of the market," says the corporate communications director of Vi Anton Charkin.

"Permission to advertise alcohol will provide substantial support to the Russian media industry. But the increase in profitability of the media won`t be immediate because the market will need some time to get used to the new conditions. The most important thing is that the advertising market will be open to new players and will help the industry to survive in times of crisis," thinks the chief editor of "Moskovsky Komsomolets" Pavel Gusev.

Another quite effective support measure, according to experts, is promoting the Russian media products in the BRICS markets (the plan implies the possibility of information cooperation). Volin affirms that assistance will be provided "manually" and refers to China as the most promising market.

"The experience of exporting the Russian movie and television products outside the CIS was quite successful, the only problem is in replicating and popularizing of our content abroad," says Charkin.

The well-known television and film producer Alexander Rodnyansky shares this point and believes that the BRICS countries could bring significant revenues to the domestic film industry.

"China could become the most promising market where the revenue is high and there is no prejudice against the Russian genre films. In addition, there is an excellent infrastructure there and a huge number of spectators. The very experience of the film "Stalingrad" which grossed $ 67 million in the Chinese box office shows that with the sound approach Russian films may gain big profits there," says the producer of "Gazeta.ru".

Apart from Chinese markets the Russian media products could be in demand in Brazil. It is necessary to promote the Russian film market through joint projects, believes Rodnyansky.

The producer has also approved of the initiative of the Ministry of Communications to resolve the issues of product placement. "In the context of the advertising market contraction this tool becomes an important and effective way to attract investors to television and movie industries, he says.

During the crisis, it is normal to cut salaries of people working in the movie industry. "Sometimes the cost of production and salaries are exaggerated, so they should be subject to reduction," emphasizes Rodnyansky.

Market players were less enthusiastic about the proposals of the Ministry of Communications on import substitution. By the way, according to Volin, the switch to the Russian equipment should be made at the expense of the industry.

The chief editor of "Moskovsky Komsomolets" noted that full import substitution in the Russian print media is hardly possible.

"We have to buy most of the printing equipment and materials abroad and the situation won`t undergo any radical changes in the near future. Russia does not produce printing machines and printing materials. The purchase share of home-produced paper is 3% on the average. But unlike the production of equipment paper production can be developed within 2-3 years. But we will still have to buy the technologies abroad," complains Gusev.

Text and pictures by GAZETA.RU