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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

EuroNews To Show 12 Hours A Day

A Russian version of EuroNews television will be on the air by September, state-controlled RTR said Thursday. But it was unclear how RTR plans to squeeze the European news service onto the already tight television scene and whether one of the existing stations will be bumped to make room

"Residents of Moscow and some of Russia's regions will be able to watch about 12 hours of EuroNews broadcasts every day on one of Russia's main channels," RTR said in a statement. It did not specify which of the six main VHF channels will broadcast EuroNews. All are occupied.

The arrival of EuroNews to Russia was first announced by President Vladimir Putin at a press conference Wednesday.

The man heading RTR's side in the project, Andrei Bystritsky, said that the idea is to introduce the Russian audience to Western-style journalism.

"It is not an issue of whether such a news channel is needed or not. The point is to give Russian citizens the opportunity to see it. Above all it has to be said that Russia is slowly returning to Europe. Looking at it from this angle, it is the right decision to bring [EuroNews] to Russia," Bystritsky said.

"It will certainly be a secondary source of information, just as in any other country. And the audience is mostly to consist of those individuals who are interested in studying and understanding politics and economics," he added.

Potential viewers are also likely to be relatively well off, thus making EuroNews attractive for advertisers, Bystritsky said. RTR and EuroNews are to split the advertising revenues.

Bystritsky refused to comment on where EuroNews would be given space among Russia's VHF channels, adding that a compromise was always possible.

The six main channels are ORT, RTR, NTV, TV Center, TV6 and the Kultura channel, which is held equally by state-run Kultura and private Tele-Expo. Tele-Expo, which broadcasts in the mornings and late at night, mostly shows entertainment programs by MTV-Russia, the Russian arm of Rupert Murdoch's international musical television phenomenon.

And Tele-Expo's airtime is likely to be what Russia's television officials are considering for EuroNews broadcasts in Moscow, an official from the All-Russian State Television and Radio Company, or VGTRK, said on condition of anonymity. VGTRK is RTR's parent company.

The Kultura channel is seen in Moscow and some of the regions but does not have national reach.

Another option, or to expand into parts of the country were Kultura is not seen, would be to use a UHF channel.

"Euronews is interested in expanding, but what market will they find in Russia? If it appears in VHF, then one of the six existing channels will be axed. If Euronews gets shown in the UHF range, they would have a poor signal," Anna Kachkayeva, a media analyst with Radio Liberty, said in a telephone interview Thursday.

It was also unclear Thursday how VGTRK would manage to secure a license for EuroNews while sticking to legal procedures. Press Minister Mikhail Lesin has said that he considers the institution of a legal and transparent process for awarding television and radio licenses on a competitive basis to be the main achievement of his time in office.

If EuroNews were indeed to replace Tele-Expo, there would be the problem of withdrawing Tele-Expo's license. Withdrawal of a license also requires a long legal process during which the broadcaster is to be issued at least two warnings from the Press Ministry over improper performance and given a chance to defend itself.

Tele-Expo general director Kirill Lysko said his company has received no documents from the Press Ministry suggesting that its license is under threat. Tele-Expo's license expires in 2004.

"I would be really curious to see, due to the licensing problems, if two major international broadcasters such as MTV and Euronews find themselves in a conflict," Lysko said in a telephone interview Thursday.

A EuroNews spokeswoman said the frequency issues were the responsibility of the Russian side.

The British television company ITN will be responsible for the editorial content, to be fed from EuroNews headquarters in Lyon, France. ITN holds a 49 percent stake in EuroNews and operates the channel. The remaining 51 percent is held by SECEMIE, a European consortium of 20 public television companies. Its members are active participants of the European Broadcasting Union. RTR is expected to pay yearly contributions that help to run EuroNews.

EuroNews broadcasts in six languages: English, French, German, Spanish, Italian and Portugal. It is known for its absence of news anchors; its reports most often are just footage with a voice telling the story.

To generate Russian scripts, 16 Russian journalists will work in Lyon. In the initial stages, all coverage will come from EuroNews, though in the future reports may be created specifically for the Russian audience.

"I consider the project a political trial balloon," Kachkayeva said. "But, in any case, this is a chance for Russia to enter the European media market. We might promote our own news reports. It will be good training for Russian journalists."

Kachkayeva said the alliance was in part linked to VGTRK chairman Oleg Dobrodeyev, who has always been a fan of news-oriented broadcasting. Dobrodeyev co-founded NTV and was instrumental in setting a high standard of news coverage on the channel. According to Kachkayeva, Dobrodeyev has long nurtured the idea of launching a CNN-type Russian news channel, but he has never attempted to launch Russian-language broadcasts of CNN.

The coming arrival of EuroNews on the Russian television market was also welcomed by the Yabloko party.

"Our reaction to the launch of Euronews in Russia can only be a positive one, regardless of the reasons behind the project," Yabloko Duma Deputy Sergei Mitrokhin said in a telephone interview Thursday. "It will improve the objectivity of our national broadcasters, especially of the state-owned ones, … which currently don't meet European standards."

Another Yabloko deputy, Yury Shein, said that party leader Grigory Yavlinsky had discussed the need for a channel like Euronews with Putin on several occasions.

"Television news programs like EuroNews and political news [programs] exist in all languages. … Why are there still no European television channels in Russian? I believe that would be a good investment for the European Commission," Yavlinsky said at a meeting with editors of regional Russian newspapers at the commission's Moscow office last December, a Yabloko statement said.

Staff Writer Nabi Abdullaev contributed to this report.