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Russian News Channel Inches Forward

State media holding VGTRK reiterated on Thursday that the launch of a 24-hour Russian-language news channel was a priority and said it hoped to win a tender to operate a new youth-oriented channel.

VGTRK head Oleg Dobrodeyev told a Federation Council committee meeting that the news channel would be launched under the auspices of the "Vesti" news program on Rossia television, Interfax reported. He did not provide any details.

VGTRK, or the All-Russia State Television and Radio Co., controls Rossia as well as the RTR-Planeta, Sport and Kultura television channels. It also owns the Radio Rossii and Mayak radio stations.

Rossia spokeswoman Anastasia Kasyannikova declined to comment. "Mr. Dobrodeyev said all that he wanted to," she said.

Dobrodeyev has been talking about creating the news channel since the mid-1990s, when he worked for then-privately owned NTV television. He announced plans to set up the channel at VGTRK in 2003.

His comments on Thursday indicated that he had the Kremlin's blessing to push ahead with the project, said Sergei Markov, a Kremlin-connected political analyst. Markov said the Kremlin was responding to public demand for more comprehensive news coverage amid criticism of the coverage offered by the national television channels.

In 2003, VGTRK said the news channel would be modeled on CNN and BBC World, and content would be provided by Rossia and the French-based Euronews, of which VGTRK owns a 16 percent stake. It said the channel would air on channel 25, which is currently unused.

Dobrodeyev also said Thursday that VGTRK would take part in a federal tender for a channel aimed at children and youth. The Federal Agency for Press and Mass Communications is expected to set a date for the tender soon.

In a separate project, the state is looking to set up a 24-hour English-language news channel called Russia Today. The satellite channel would present domestic and international news.

(The Moscow Times 27.vi.05)

 
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