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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Bush Says Independent Media Key to a Working Democracy

Encouraging press freedom in both their countries, President George W. Bush and President Vladimir Putin met Friday with media leaders who were holding discussions alongside government talks.

Bush said he had discussed with Putin "the important role of free press in building a working democracy, and today we will meet with media entrepreneurs from both countries."

After their treaty-signing ceremony, the presidents met with the Russian-American Media Entrepreneurship Dialogue, a group whose aim is to improve business conditions that can support free and independent journalism.

U.S. newspaper publishers stand ready to develop an investment fund of as much as $50 million for Russian media companies when the Russians have demonstrated a viable, independent economic model, William Dean Singleton, chairman of the Newspaper Association of America, said at the meeting.

Singleton, vice chairman and chief executive officer of MediaNews Group Inc., represented the Americans at the meeting along with Edward Fritts, president and chief executive officer of the National Association of Broadcasters.

"Media cannot be independent without economic viability, and that viability must come without government participation," Singleton said, according to a text of his remarks provided by the newspaper association.

Dialogue working groups have been formed to address industry constraints and solutions, and recommendations are to be delivered to the U.S. and Russian governments in June.

Bush said Putin felt a forum was necessary where the media leaders could meet, and "I appreciate that."

Since Bush and Putin launched the dialogue last November, members have been meeting periodically in the two countries.

American participants traveled to Russia in March to meet with their Russian counterparts to discuss the state of the Russian media and possible areas of cooperation. In April, the American coordinators, the National Association of Broadcasters, and the Newspaper Association of America, played host to the Russians at their annual conventions.