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On Tuesday, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev had a meeting with the activists of the Open Government. He stated about the creation of the Public Television. The new TV channel will be created on the basis of the Defence Ministry’s Zvezda TV channel, and the president and the government will control the work of the TV channel. According to experts, the TV channel funded from the budget will differ slightly from other TV channels. The Russian Public Television should begin its full broadcasting starting from January 1, 2013, Medvedev said.
The Public Television cannot make first steps without the state authorities, the Rossiiskaya Gazeta daily believed. One of the hardest issues of the TV channel is funding that was decided to make through a credit scheme. The main governing body of the new TV channel will become the Council of the Public Television. The council will be formed through the Public Chamber, where all political forces should be represented.
The new TV channel will be included in the first multiplex during Russia’s transition to the digital broadcasting, which is planned to launch in 2014. Under the presidential decree of 2009, nine TV channels were already included in the first multiplex, the Kommersant daily noted. The Russian Public Television will be available for all people and free.
When creating the Public Television Medvedev pledged to take measures to avoid “an excessive state influence on the activities of this public institution, because the state authorities certainly influence on everything, but its influence should not be excessive.” But the role of the civil society will be lower in the Public Television than it was expected during the debates on the project. The president decided that the autonomous non-profit organization will fulfil the role of the founder and the editorial office of the Russian Public Television, which the Russian government will form. The government will also approve the charter of this autonomous non-profit organization. The president will appoint the general director and the chief editor of the TV channel that will be one official.
The name of the new TV channel’s director general and chief editor was not called yet. The Kommersant daily noted that head of the state-run radio station Voice of Russia Andrei Bystritsky and president of the International Academy of Television and Radio Anatoly Lysenko are among the most probable candidates for this post. In reply to a question whether the Public Television structure is viable, he said, “It is very complicated! Much more should be done for its realization.”
Member of the Central Committee of the Communist Party Oleg Kulikov, who is cited by the Nezavisimaya Gazeta daily, believes that the Public Television should set the party quota, “For whom this television is being created? For abstract groups of citizens or for declaring the positions of the political parties and for the pluralism of opinions? And for the coverage of these opinions? The struggle of ideas should be waged on this TV channel.” The Public Chamber does not have such powers, “I do not realize clearly how this will be linked with the legislation. The law should be enacted, the funding should be provided. From what sources? From the budget? From the state-owned banks? Who will lobby it in the State Duma? If the project does not have a strong party component, no one will fight for its budget in the State Duma.”
The creation of the Public Television in Russia has a positive fact generally, but one should not expect something absolutely new from the new TV channel, Media-Soyuz Vice-President Yelena Zelinskaya cited by the Novye Izvestia daily, believes. “The financial independence exists only where there is an economic independence,” the expert explained. “The new television is stated as the television free from advertising, the television that is not seeking for the rating. This means that it will depend completely from the government. New jobs for journalists will be created. The viewers will hardly get something new,” he underlined.