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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

St. Pete Station Tapped for TV6 Slot

St. Petersburg Governor Vladimir Yakovlev called for his hometown television station, TRK-Petersburg, to take part in a March 27 tender for broadcast rights on the frequency formerly held by TV6 and promised to support the station's bid, the governor's spokesman said Friday.

Yakovlev discussed the station's bid with President Vladimir Putin during a visit to the capital earlier in the week, his spokesman Alexander Afanasyev said.

"I spoke to the president about the injustice that took place several years ago when St. Petersburg lost access to a nationwide audience," Yakovlev was quoted by the Strana.ru web site as telling reporters in St. Petersburg on Thursday.

The "injustice" refers to the 1997 ouster of the Petersburg station, which is controlled by Yakovlev's office and the government of the Leningrad region, from its spot on channel 5, one of six VHF frequencies that cover the entire country. The frequency was taken over by the state-run Kultura channel, and broadcasting by its predecessor, known at the time as Petersburg-5th Channel, became relegated to St. Petersburg and the surrounding region. In recent years, the Petersburg station has been balancing on the brink of bankruptcy.

In addition to pledging his support for a bid by TRK-Petersburg, Yakovlev also criticized the performance of the advertising-free Kultura, which he called "unsuccessful."

TRK-Petersburg has not officially stated its intention to take part in the tender. Company officials could not be reached for comment Friday.

Speaking by telephone from St. Petersburg, Afanasyev said Yakovlev's conversation about the station's bid with Putin, himself a St. Petersburg native, did not mean the station would get a license without a tender.

"The governor discussed it with the president, but this does not mean some decision was made," he said.

The frequency that will go up for grabs next month -- formerly a slot for Boris Berezovsky's TV6 -- fell empty when the Press Ministry revoked the station's license after a politically charged legal battle to declare the station's parent company bankrupt.

At least eight other contenders are believed to be angling for the license, including the ousted team of TV6 journalists; the privately owned ATV production studios; two minor stations, Mir and Klass!; the 7TV sports station, which has links to the Interior Ministry and presidential envoy Georgy Poltavchenko and broadcasts on a UHF frequency; the Russian Olympic Committee; and oil giant LUKoil, which controlled 15 percent of TV6 and won the station's liquidation in court.

TV-VI, a company registered by screenwriter and television personality Viktor Merezhko, who used to host a television show on TV6, also said it would bid for the frequency.