The law is aimed at changing the regime governing the provision of air time and print space for political parties, nominated candidates or lists of candidates who received less than the number of votes required by law in the election.
At present these political parties are obliged to refund the cost of air time and print space that they receive free of charge from broadcasting companies and print publications' editorial staff during the campaign. The law eliminates the need for reimbursement and provides that in the next elections these political parties and their candidates will not receive free air time and print space. The affected political parties and candidates are entitled to receive for a fee their due proportion of the total air time and print space reserved for campaigning, including for the conduct of joint campaign events.
During federal elections free air time and print space will not be available to a political party that is the successor of another party whose nominated candidate or federal list of candidates received less than the statutory minimum number of votes during the previous election. This rule does not apply to the successor political party if the succession is the result of unification with another party and if the candidate or list of candidates nominated by the successor political party received the minimum legal number of votes or more than that number during the previous elections.
The law contains transitional provisions aimed at regulating the existing situation following the results of the elections of deputies to the State Duma of the fifth convocation. Thus, political parties with an active debt to the media access providing organisations outstanding as of the date of the official publication of the results of nominations for State Duma deputies, in the next elections will not benefit from free air time and print space during these elections. However, they will be able to obtain for a fee a share of air time and print space allocated for the campaign.
The federal law also provides for the harmonisation of legislative terminology on elections and referendums with tax laws in relation to the provision of free air time and print space. To this end, the terms free [besplatno] and free of charge [na besplatnoi osnove], used in the legislation on elections and referendums are replaced, respectively, with the terms gratis [bezvozmezdno] and at zero cost [na bezvozmezdnoi osnove].