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(FYI) BBC: Russian station back with new owners

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  • Norbert Strade
    BBC Saturday, 1 June, 2002 Russian station back with new owners An independent Russian television channel known for criticising the government has returned to
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 1 6:37 PM
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      BBC

      Saturday, 1 June, 2002

      Russian station back with new owners


      An independent Russian television channel known for criticising the
      government has returned to the airwaves under new ownership, more than
      four months after being taken off air.

      Channel Six - now called TVS - began broadcasting on Saturday morning on
      the same frequency as before, and with many of the same liberal
      journalists on the payroll.

      The channel is under new ownership, which includes a number of
      pro-government tycoons and former Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov, who
      has retained strong links with the Kremlin.*

      Correspondents say there are concerns TVS' editorial independence may
      have been severely curtailed, despite Mr Primakov's assurances not to
      interfere with coverage.

      Another Russian broadcaster, NTV, appeared to be under threat on
      Saturday, as its broadcasting licence, due to expire at midnight, has
      not been renewed.

      A press ministry spokesman has said there were several grievances
      against NTV, which was taken over by state-connected natural gas
      monopoly Gazprom in 2001 amid a fierce debate over media freedom.

      Controversial closure

      In its earlier guise as TV-6, the station was part of the media
      interests of the exiled tycoon, Boris Berezovsky, an opponent of
      President Vladimir Putin.

      It was ordered to close in controversial circumstances in January,
      prompting concern about journalistic freedoms in Russia.

      A Russian court ruled on Thursday that the closure of TV-6 in January
      had been illegal.

      It was ordered on a technicality after a shareholder with government
      links petitioned that the station was insolvent.

      'Miracle' reappearance

      TVS began broadcasting at 0800 Moscow time (0400 GMT) on Saturday with a
      children's film Old Khottabych, an immensely popular film from the
      Soviet era about a genie who gets a Russian child into trouble by giving
      bad advice.

      "We wanted to begin with something bright," TVS official Tatyana Blinova
      said.

      "It is a film about miracles."

      Channel representatives said the outspoken anchorman Yevgeny Kiselyov
      would return to host his popular Sunday night programme Itogi.

      Mr Kiselyov and his team, which he led from NTV to TV-6, had planned to
      make their own independent pitch to retake the channel.
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      *That's simple. With Primakov, it has come under the direct command of
      the KGB.
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