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MOSCOW, June 9 (Itar-Tass) — The Russian State Duma lower parliament house has passed in the first reading a bill that creates a legislative base for a public television the government plans to establish. The bill is to be passed into law before the end of the spring parliamentary session.
The presidential decree orders to endorse the Charter of Public Television that would provide for a special administration structure, the Kommersant writes. The supervisory board will be the supreme body of the would-be channel, the Public Television council will form the supervisory board and exercise public control, and the director general and concurrently the editor-in-chief will be the channel’s top executive. The council members and the top executive will be appointed by the president. The government was also instructed to ensure fundraising for the Public Television.
Lawmakers, the newspaper notes, were worried about independence of the would-be channel. Thus, Nikolai Kolomeitsev of the Communist party asked whether the government had taken into account its mistakes made while creating the Russian Public Television, or ORT, channel, which “has turned to be public television of a small group of influential wealthy people.” A similar question was voiced by Mikhail Serdyuk of the A Just Russia party. Deputy Minister of Communications Alexander Maslov, who presented the bill at the lower parliament house, sounded resolute. There will be no “influence of anybody’s commercial interests” on the Public Television, he pledged. It means, in his words, that despite the fact that the channel would be funded by both the state and private investors, “the mechanism of target capital excludes any influence of those who invests money, the money will be depersonalized.”
The bill is expected to be passed into law in July. So far, until June 15, the Russian Public Chamber receives applications of those seeking membership in the Public Television council. Political parties seem to show little interest in it.
The State Duma has passed in the first reading government amendments to the law on non-commercial organizations to facilitate the launch of the Public Television by January 1, 2013, the Rossisskaya Gazeta daily writes. The opposition expressed its readiness to offer assistance in the formation of the new television channel. “It is pointless to criticize the Public Television before it is formed,” said chairman of the State Duma committee for public associations and religious organizations Yaroslav Nilov. “First, we shall see how the Public Television works and then decide what should be amended.”
However, Ilya Ponomaryov of A Just Russia could not help criticizing the would-be television channel. In his words, the Public Television, as it is defined in the bill, is unlikely to reflect the interests of entire society. To make it really efficient, the Public Television needs an independent personnel policy, an independent editorial policy, and independent financing, which is not provided in the bill, he said. His point of view however was not shared by the majority of lawmakers.