And the harm of tobacco apart // Online cinemas do not want equality with TV channels in the face of smoking scenes

Roskomnadzor has brought to justice the largest video services ivi, Megogo and Kinopoisk for demonstrating smoking in their series without mentioning the dangers of tobacco. Companies are challenging the fines, insisting they are not obligated to comply with regulations for broadcasters and broadcast organizers. Services don’t want to annoy customers who pay to watch movies and TV shows without ads. Experts consider the position of market participants to be quite strong from a legal point of view, but they also recognize the validity of the logic of Roskomnadzor.

Online cinemas “Kinopoisk” and ivi are challenging the decisions of Roskomnadzor in the Moscow Arbitration Court, Kommersant found in the court’s database. The companies filed the relevant applications on May 11 and 19, respectively. The application of “Kinopoisk” was accepted for consideration in accordance with the simplified procedure, ivi – left without movement.

Services will appeal fines for the lack of social advertising about the dangers of tobacco when distributing content that demonstrates tobacco products and smoking, the Roskomnadzor told Kommersant.

According to Kommersant, the fine was 100 thousand rubles. The general director of Megogo in Russia, Viktor Chekanov, told Kommersant that the video service also received a fine and will appeal against it. Kinopoisk and ivi declined to comment.

The video platforms have a fundamental dispute with the regulator about whether they are obliged to mark smoking scenes, say Kommersant’s interlocutors in the market. Since 2014, the law “On protecting the health of citizens from exposure to tobacco smoke, the consequences of tobacco consumption or consumption of nicotine-containing products” obliges broadcasters and organizers of demonstrations to precede a message about the dangers of tobacco smoking scenes in films, TV series, etc.

Online cinemas do not apply this requirement to themselves, since they do not have a broadcast license, and the user launches the video on the platform, organizing the broadcast for personal or family viewing.

“Roskomnadzor does not apply requirements to YouTube videos,” says an employee of one of the platforms.

The position of the Internet Video Association, which unites video services, boils down to the fact that online cinemas are not obliged to place public service announcements, the press service of the Start video service told Kommersant. They noted that there were no requirements for the platform from Roskomnadzor, but it adds labels about the dangers of smoking to films that are labeled 18+. The main problem in the implementation of the rules is not financial, emphasizes the interlocutor of Kommersant in another service: “Subscribers pay to watch films and series without advertising and any other informational messages. Nobody wants to burden the audience with unnecessary dies ”.

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“Legislation in the field of advertising operates with the universal concept of” broadcast organizer “, which includes all audiovisual services on which the owner’s content is posted,” objected in Roskomnadzor. Online cinemas began to massively produce original content – TV shows are released by ivi, Kinopoisk, Okko, Start, Kion and others, and smoking scenes are in many of their projects. Until now, video services have escaped responsibility, there is still no practice of punishment, says Yevgeny Korchago, chairman of the Korchago and Partners Bar Association. “It is likely that the gap in legislation will be filled in the future,” he said.

Roskomnadzor’s claims are “a recognition of the adulthood” of the market, says Kirill Tanaev, director of the Institute of Modern Media (MOMRI):

Online cinemas have turned from a marginal phenomenon for fans to a mass destination, they receive investments and work with a wide audience. This imposes obligations, like, for example, on TV channels ”.

Formally, online cinemas are not broadcasters, nor do they show audiovisual works, only organizing their distribution, says Ekaterina Tyagay, partner of the Pen & Paper collegium. “Therefore, it will be difficult for Roskomnadzor in a specific dispute to prove that the online cinema is precisely the“ organizer of the demonstration ”and is obliged to place public service announcements,” the expert said. Services could be equated to the organizers of the demonstration, objected Yevgeny Korchago. Egor Redin, Managing Partner of Positions Prava, refers to the FAS position “On social advertising about the dangers of tobacco consumption”: according to it, “any person” can act as advertisers.

Anna Afanasyeva, Dmitry Shestoperov