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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

EuroNews Takes to Air on Channel 5

Russia's favorite music channel, MTV, has been bumped off the local airwaves to make way for the Russian version of EuroNews, leaving many questions unanswered about how the switch was allowed to happen and how this will affect the country's music video lovers.

MTV fans tuning in Tuesday morning were surprised to see nonstop news broadcasts instead of Beavis and Butthead as EuroNews unexpectedly began its first terrestrial broadcasts.

The 24-hour news channel, based in Lyon, France, began broadcasting in Russian just last month and had been available only via satellite due to a lack of capacity on the country's six major VHF channels, all of which were occupied by stations with licenses from the Press Ministry.

But EuroNews' appearance on Kultura -- channel 5 in the Moscow area -- suggests that some sort of deal was reached involving MTV-Russia, the Press Ministry and TeleExpo, which is licensed to broadcast on Kultura 12 hours a day.

The legal process of revoking a license -- TeleExpo's is valid until 2004 -- is a complicated one, so it is unclear how it was bypassed in this case.

Press Minister Mikhail Lesin, a vocal supporter of transparent and competitive procedures for awarding licenses, denied that the switch was a case of expropriation. He said it was "for the creation of mutually satisfactory conditions for the [further] development of ... EuroNews, Kultura and MTV," Ria Novosti reported.

"We have good relations with MTV," Lesin was quoted as saying, but he added that MTV had a luxurious advantage over other television companies because it broadcast on two channels in Moscow and the Moscow region. In addition to seven hours a day on Kultura, MTV also broadcast on UHF channel 38.

"No other broadcaster had this," Lesin said.

He described MTV as a "foreign body" on Kultura, according to RIA Novosti, saying the issue of moving MTV was bound to come up sooner or later. He did not elaborate.

Despite support from the president himself, EuroNews' prospects for getting broad access to Russian viewers looked dim before Tuesday.

Last month, the firm behind the Russian version of EuroNews, European Broadcasting Co., which is majority owned by RTR state television, won a tender to broadcast on UHF channel 25. However, RTR said channel 25 would be technically ready for EuroNews no earlier than December.

RTR's pointman for the project, Andrei Bystritsky, declined to comment Thursday, saying that he knew nothing of the deal behind the switch and that it was between MTV and the Press Ministry.

Calls to MTV and TeleExpo went unanswered.

It is unclear how the switch will affect MTV's coverage, which now spans about 100 cities. The channel's local competitor, Muz-TV, which airs in more than 260 cities, has been hoping for a buyout by MTV, but the latter has not confirmed its interest in the deal.

But the surprise move certainly raised eyebrows in media circles.

"It looks like some kind of power play," said media analyst Sergei Pankin, adding that the decision seemed to have come without due process.