MOSCOW, January 21. /ITAR-TASS/. Russia's Deputy Minister of Telecom and Mass Communications Alexei Volin has said the government funding of the Public Television of Russia channel will continue but that business and the society must provide assistance, too.
"The government has already given support to OTR which is comparable to Euronews funding," Volin said at a session of the Public Chamber of Tuesday. "Anatoly Lysenko /OTR director/ asked more, but then all the mass media asked more; none of them received as much funding as they wanted, and OTR is no exception here."
The government will continue to fund OTR, but it is absolutely clear that it will be unable to provide the amount of funding which OTR wants, or as any other media outlet wants. "There's always a gap between wishes and real opportunities, especially when the economic situation is not the most favorable," the deputy minister added.
When OTR was being established, the state allocated it a 1.5-billion-rouble budget, assuming that the rest would be raised by the society.
"Since the OTR establishment, the state has allocated 3 billion rubles, and the society has raised 2.2 million rubles, so the state's contribution has reached 99.9% versus the society's 0.01%," Volin said.
Earlier on Tuesday, OTR director Lysenko said the company might halve its personnel 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 personnel," Anatoly Lysenko told the Public Chamber as it was reviewing the company's performance since the beginning of its operation last May.
"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 said.
He believes that the main thing the Channel has accomplished is that there is a discussion going on and that "nobody is shouting."
"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."
During the Tuesday meeting, chairman of the presidential council for human rights and developing civil society Mikhail Fedotov called for improving the 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.
Editor-in-chief of the newspaper Moskovsky Komsomolets Pavel Gusev said OTR should be kept afloat by all means, despite financial problems.