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Half of OTR TV channel staff might lose jobs

January 21, 2014, 14:35 UTC+3 MOSCOW
"Given the fact that equipment makes half of the company which cannot be made redundant, we'll have to dismiss half of our employees," the channel's CEO said
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© ITAR-TASS

MOSCOW, January 21. /ITAR-TASS/. CEO of Public Television of Russia (OTR) said the company might halve its staff due to shortage of funds.

"The channel has a lot of plans, but the only obstacle is that we have to cut our staff by two times within two months. Given the fact that equipment makes half of the company which cannot be made redundant, we'll have to dismiss half of our employees," Anatoly Lysenko told the Public Chamber on Tuesday.

"I still hope that the channel will go on no matter what happens," Lysenko said, "we'd like the Public Chamber which forms the OTR Public Council to participate in the discussion (of the OTR financial situation) and provide assistance to us."

He noted that "OTR's main guideline is telling about people doing their job, the society's self-organization and the country's life."

"Forty to 50% of our content includes regional television based upon the materials which tell about the life in provinces. Today, we have a very poor knowledge of what happens outside Moscow, so we try to tell in our programs about people in other areas," he went on.

He believes that the main thing the Channel has accomplished is that there is a discussion going on and that "nobody is shouting."

Viewers are taking it well. "We have an audience; people participate in discussions on the Channel. Also, the channel is watched because it represents all viewpoints, absolutely different, which makes it interesting to the viewers," the OTR director said.

"We have a whole set of programs on science and culture. Documentaries and classic Soviet films account for a large share. We do not and will not run foreign films," Lysenko said, "we believe we've managed to create an interesting content, but a lack of funding is undermining our work."

As of the time the OTR channel was launched, the government allocated 1.5 billion rubles to the company. The channel went on air on May 19, 2013. It was in the plans that it would receive money from public funds in the future.

Meanwhile, chairman of the presidential council for human rights and developing civil society (HRC) Mikhail Fedotov called for improving effectiveness of OTR management.

"Public television has appeared; it is functioning. It can be criticized, liked or disliked, but it exists. We shouldn't think about its demise; we should make further plans," Fedotov said.

He agreed with the position of certain Public Chamber members who said OTR should not be shut down due to financial problems.

"We have to support it as the only such new channel and prevent it from going down because it would be pure sabotage. In that event, we could say that we'll never have public television."

The HRC chairman drew the Channel's attention to certain administrative detains. In his opinion, OTR managers should pay more attention to fundraising through charity actions, launch such actions on the Internet, and use web money and online banking options.

For example, "I decided to donate; it took me an hour. Few can afford to spend so much of their time," Fedotov acknowledged. "There's an easy solution to the problem. We talked about it with the Channel administration, but no headway has been made."

"It doesn't take much ask the government for money but it would be useful to collect donations," he said.

Also, he urged OTR to be more modest in using personnel. According to Fedotov, the Channel sent six staffers to him to shoot 10-minute footage. "You'll never have enough money if you work at such scale," Fedotov said.

In his opinion, HRC and Pubic Chamber members should appear on OTR more often.

"I'm calling for supporting public television on the one hand, and, on the other, for thinking about how we can help it improve its work," Fedotov said.

On Tuesday, editor-in-chief of the newspaper Moskovsky Komsomolets Pavel Gusev said OTR should be kept afloat by all means, despite financial problems.

"Public television is a platform which has become real. We should by all means keep the platform which has freedom of speech," Gusev said. "I also like Anatoly Lysenko's (OTR CEO) setting the objective not to turn the platform into a shout box which many had expected."

"The channel has an audience of its own; it's wonderful, but it should expand. I believe the Public Chamber and the presidential rights council should do everything to persuade the country's leadership to keep public television," he said.

Public Television of Russia (OTR) is a television channel which went on air in May 2013. This Russian federal channel based on principles of public television appeared free and automatically in the networks of all cable, satellite and IP-television operator. The state has allocated 1.5 billion rubles in 2013. A decree on institution of Public Television in Russia was signed in April 2012. In legal terms, the Public Television was intended as a non-profit autonomous organization, which would simultaneously be the founder, the editorial board and the broadcaster.

July 26, Anatoly Lysenko told journalists that monetary reserves of the TV outlet were over. “By now our budget has been fully exhausted. I do not know how we will live in the future,” he said. “The legend that the TV channel can live on donations did not justify itself,” he commented on the situation.

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