Russian Government Approves Non-State TV Licence

28 March 2002

Russian journalists forced off the air by the collapse of TV6 – the independent TV station closed down in January after a court declared it insolvent [WAMN: 22-Jan-02] – are set to return to national television.

The journalists are part of a nonprofit group called Media-Sotsium, which has been awarded a five-year broadcasting licence by a government commission. They hope to be back on-air in May.

Following the closure of TV6 – behind which, many believe, was pressure from the Kremlin to silence opposition – the new venture is regarded as the last chance to set up a non-state-owned national TV network.

However, the journalists have some strange bedfellows in Media-Sotsium, including former Russian prime minister Yevgeny M Primakov (who clamped down on the press when in power) and a number of business magnates and public figures.

Critics of the venture note that the government proposed the combination in the first place, pointing out that the journalists only gain one vote in the organisation’s corporate structure, compared with five controlled by the others involved. As such, reporters’ independence may be compromised.

However, last-minute changes to the company’s structure are said to have given journalists more power over editorial policy and management.

“We are off to celebrate,” insisted Grigory Krichevsky, former head of news at TV6. “This is definitely a victory.”

Data sourced from: New York Times; additional content by WARC staff