TV Center Revamps to Attract Youth Audience

TV Center, the city's government-controlled television channel, will introduce major changes to its broadcasting and programming to focus more on entertainment and information to target a bigger audience and increase its advertising revenues.

The channel's management intends to compete vigorously with the country's three state-controlled national channels, Channel One, Rossia and NTV, by adding popular series, talk shows and investigative reports to its prime-time broadcasting, the channel's officials said. Starting Monday, the channel, which has a national audience estimated at 90 million people, will also switch to a 24-hour format.

Since its creation in 1997, TV Center has been widely regarded as a mouthpiece for City Hall. Its news coverage is generally regarded as lagging behind that of the other three national channels.

TV Center shares its frequency with TV3, which broadcasts four hours per day. TV Center currently offers a diet of city news, two weekly analytical shows, daytime local weather reports and daily Western-made detective programs. Now its management will make the overhauled station more commercially oriented by adding new programs to evening prime-time schedules.

Under the plan, the targeted audience will be women aged 30 to 50 and young people, general producer Alexander Oleinikov told daily Nezavisimaya Gazeta.

Luzhkov's spokesman Sergei Tsoi, who is TV Center's board chairman, said he expected higher revenue from advertising after the revamp.

Alexander Kostyuk of consultancy TNS Gallop Media, who attended an industry briefing on the changes Monday, said the channel had long suffered from a lack of advertisers, who were scared off by its elderly audience.

"Its biggest problem has always been the elderly audience, which is largely indifferent to advertising, including television commercials," Kostyuk said Thursday.

"The changes sound logical and very promising. We will have to wait and see whether the quality of the product is as good as the plan," Kostyuk said.

Tsoi insisted the channel would retain its socially oriented format. The share of children's programming will increase by 30 percent, he said. The weekly show "Litsom k Gorodu," or Facing the City, featuring Mayor Yury Luzhkov and senior city government officials addressing the city's problems and taking questions from Muscovites, will keep its Tuesday evening slot, Tsoi said.

Among the new shows will be four investigative reporting programs per week, airing at 10:40 p.m. Monday through Thursday.