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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Producer Aims to Rival Main Client, ORT

The VID production company makes 10 shows for ORT and one for TV 6. Now it plans to bid in a tender for the broadcasting license held by TV Center. VID general director Larisa Sinelshchikova talked to Anton Charkin of Vedomosti about her company's plans.

Q: Why would a successful production company want to become a broadcaster?

A: Life as an independent producer on various channels is a lot like living in a dorm room. You always want to set up your own house, especially if the entire dorm is full of "producer" relatives.

Q: But VID and ORT have long-standing familial relations.

A: Actually, we have a complex relationship with ORT. There has always been a conflict of interests between producers and broadcasters.

Q: What concrete problems do you have with ORT? They pay you for your programming don't they?

A: Yes. But they aren't regular with their payments. The channel is forever having financial problems, and fundamental ones at that.

Q: So have you been doing charity work for them?

A: No. But we get half what we received before the crisis, and expenses are still at pre-crisis levels.

Q: VID has long been called ORT's own production company.

A: It would be great if this were so. But ORT will never agree, because it would lead to the monopoly that broadcasters are so afraid of.

Q: Why don't you work with other channels?

A: We'd very much like to, and we've tried. But we haven't received one kopek for all the time we worked with RTR; they still owe us. And NTV won't touch us.

Q: Is ORT leadership aware of your decision to participate in the tender?

A: [ORT director Konstantin] Ernst was understanding. And we are not an ORT department.

Q: Will you leave ORT if you win?

A: No. We have the capacity to work on two channels. Not all of the programming we come up with makes it onto ORT, and what goes onto ORT under the VID label stays at ORT. We're going into the tender with a completely non-ORT concept.

Q: What kind? "A Moscow and Moscow Oblast theme," such as the Print Ministry described when it announced the tender?

A: Moscow needs contemporary Moscow television. We are proposing a full-service channel, with social and political commentary, entertainment and news. We're going into it from the perspective that Muscovites are different from the Russians in the national audience on whom ORT focuses.

Q: So VID has no federal ambitions?

A: No. For Moscow to not have it's own high quality channel is an unpardonable offense.

Q: The tender is being judged on concept and financing. You have to reveal the sources of your financing. Who is planning to finance VID?

A: This is spelled out in our proposal: Our own funding plus loans. We have no financial agreements with the oligarchs; we just know the television market well. We'd like to believe that the time for professionals has arrived. That seems to be a pivotal aspect of our new president's policies.

Q: So initially you're planning to invest directly into the channel?

A: Yes. We're proceeding on the premise that the channel is needed. Of course it won't pay for itself with just a year and a half or two years of advertising revenues. It's the producer that determines revenues. The quality of programming you produce will determine how much of the advertising market you take. We're hoping to average 10 percent. That would be plenty to support the channel.

Q: Do you really think you can break the stereotype that a third channel isn't very popular among advertisers?

A: I have always said that the first priority in television is the product that goes onto the airways. Unfortunately, TV Center does not have very professional management. They don't create anything substantial. If we create a competitive product, a third channel will take its share of the market.

Q: If VID does launch a metropolitan channel, are you prepared to have contacts with the Moscow government?

A: We would be glad to act as a buffer between the Moscow government and federal authorities.

Q: Does VID have a recipe for making a program that lasts forever?

A: Yes. The president's New Year's address.