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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Press Ministry Extends NTV's License

The Press Ministry decided Monday to extend NTV's license for another five years, ending speculation that the television station might be forced to fight for its frequency in a tender.

The decision was made after a meeting of the federal licensing commission, which voted unanimously to recommend that the ministry extend the license.

"After consultations, and despite the fact that NTV's activities have sometimes violated current legislation, we decided to continue NTV's activities for another five years," Press Minister Mikhail Lesin said in televised remarks.

The Press Ministry has not elaborated on NTV's alleged violations, but NTV officials said they were reprimanded earlier this year, along with most other television networks, for failing to offer enough children's programming.

In the run-up to Monday's meeting, several newspapers reported that the ministry may have been pushing for a tender in an attempt to strip NTV founder Vladimir Gusinsky of his 30 percent stake in the channel or to spook NTV general director Boris Jordan, who has a rocky relationship with Lesin.

Commission members denied the reports. Manana Aslamazyan, a nongovernment member on the commission, said the question of renewing NTV's license arose because of a conflict between two laws regulating television licensing. The commission recommended that the law on mass media and a 1994 Cabinet regulation be amended, she said.

"We recommended that the ministry extend the license without a tender so as not to create a tense situation and stir up the public," Aslamazyan said. "The ministry agreed."

She also said that the commission, which is made up of five government officials and four nongovernment members, concluded that the ministry was at fault for not resolving the matter in advance and for waiting until NTV's license expired Saturday night.

NTV, which welcomed the ministry's decision, also announced a sweeping restructuring designed to bring in an additional $5 million in the first year. The company, which is part of the Gazprom-Media holding, will be itself transformed into a holding by the end of 2003, the Vedomosti newspaper reported Monday.

NTV-Broadcasting will buy content at market prices from its own two subsidiaries, NTV-Production and NTV-News. Design solutions will be provided by NTV-Design, which will be the first company split off into a separate business before the end of the year. NTV-Assets will manage the holding's studios, equipment and offices.

Subsidiaries will be allowed to sell their productions to competitors if NTV-Broadcasting rejects them.

"The company is no longer making a loss," Jordan was quoted by Vedomosti as saying. "Now we need to have a situation where each profit center is making money. My job is to make sure that the subsidiaries have no stimuli other than market stimuli."