Medvedev Backs Farming TV Channel

ria-novostiMedvedev and Agriculture Minister Alexei Gordeyev sampling cucumbers at a greenhouse in Barnaul on Wednesday.
Presidential candidate Dmitry Medvedev on Wednesday called for a 24-hour television channel on farming in an apparent bid to win support from the country's farmers ahead of next month's presidential vote.

"I have proposed launching a specialized agricultural television channel," Medvedev told a national agricultural assembly in Barnaul on Wednesday, Interfax reported. "Information featuring rural life is limited and scanty, and is aired at a time inconvenient for farmers."

Medvedev, a first deputy prime minister and President Vladimir Putin's preferred successor, said the new channel should tap into "technical innovations being developed in Russia."

Yevgeny Kiselyov, a former general director of NTV, when the channel was privately owned, said that while it was standard practice to have specialized cable channels in developed countries, Medvedev's proposals could run into problems.

"Where would they get the frequency for an agricultural channel that could reach the nooks and crannies of Russia?" Kiselyov said. "Most of the present channels are not accessible in rural areas because of the technical constraints inherited from the Soviet Union."

If an agricultural channel was aimed at helping people in remote areas, such money "could be well spent on other pressing issues, such as upgrading provincial hospitals and helping poverty-stricken pensioners," Kiselyov said.

Last month, Medvedev backed the launch of a new 24-hour channel on legal issues, called Zakon TV, which would initially be funded by NTV, which is owned by Gazprom-Media. In 2005, then-Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov backed the launch of Zvezda, a channel dedicated to the military.