Streaming Wars: The Real Fight Behind Russia's False YouTube 'Ban'

Nov 30, 2016 — 15:35
— Update: Nov. 30 2016 — 12:44
Nov 30, 2016 — 15:35
— Update: Nov. 30 2016 — 12:44

Internet video giant YouTube will not be forced out of Russia under a new bill regulating online streaming services, the Russian government has confirmed. 

"We can officially say that all talk of YouTube facing legal restrictions is simply not true," Deputy Communications Minister Alexei Volin told the Rambler News Service on Wednesday. "These restrictions will not apply to YouTube. What we're seeing now is a panicked reading by lawyers who live according to the principle that everything is forbidden. They're scaring both themselves and everyone else."

Rumors of a potential YouTube ban were sparked back in June when two Duma deputies submitted a bill limiting foreign ownership in companies which provide "audiovisual services with professional content" to 20 percent. 

The law, which was partly drafted by the Media and Communications Commission (MCC) — a board made-up of representatives from major communications companies — looks to extend current regulations on media ownership to online video services. Any company with more than 100 thousand monthly users, or more than 20 thousand users in any one Russian region, would be subject to the law. 

Yet not all of the MCC agreed on the draft law. The bill's true initiators were the Gazprom-Media holding and the STS Media company, the Kommersant newspaper reported. They wrote the text specifically to combat online streaming giant Netflix, which announced it was entering the Russian market in January. 

Both companies have their own streaming services and hope to "monopolize the market and legalize the formation of a cartel" to fight off Netflix, an unnamed source told Kommersant.

Many other MCC members — telecom operators in particular – are not pleased with the plan. If passed, the law would force foreign streaming services to store their content abroad. That would lengthen their content's path from the servers where it is stored to the telecom company clients' devices. As a result, the telecom operators would ultimately be forced to invest more funds into transferring content to their clients.

The question of YouTube does not relate to the real issue at hand, said Leonid Volkov, head of the Internet Defense Society NGO. 

Writing on Facebook, Volkov said that Russian streaming services had been waging a "holy war" with Netflix for the past year, even if the streaming giant didn't yet realize it.

"Russian streaming services were scared to death that Netflix would wipe them out when it entered the Russian market," Volkov wrote. "So they started doing their favorite thing: lobbying for protectionist measures."


Max Black, or, 62 Ways of Supporting the Head With the Hand

Thu. Mar. 23 Tue. Mar. 28

Heiner Goebbels’ production, featuring a brilliant performance by Alexander Panteleyev, balances visual and aural technology and art, philosophical paradoxes and mathematical formulas, polyphony and pyrotechnics, while revealing the mechanisms and nature of the human thout process. Based on the notebooks of Paul Valery, Georg Christoph Lichtenberg, Ludwig Wittgenstein and Max Black. English subtitles. Read more

Between Russia and Japan: Life on the Kuril Islands

The Moscow Times takes a look at life on the disputed island chain known to Russians as the Southern Kurils, but referred to in Japan ...

see more

Death of a Rocketman: Who Was Vladimir Evdokimov?

The death of a former space agency chief in a pre-trial detention cell may have been a contract killing, investigators say.

Resilience and Heart on Show as Irish Film Festival Turns 10

From Ireland's version of 'Fight Club' to a musical set ...

Death of a Rocketman: Who Was Vladimir Evdokimov?

The death of a former space agency chief in a pre-trial detention cell may have been a contract ...