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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

CNN, CNBC on Board for RBC-TV Launch

For MTSome of RBC-TV's 500-strong staff in the Moscow newsroom, from which the $23 million venture will broadcast 24 hours a day.
RBC-TV, the country's first 24-hour business news channel, is set to go on air Sept. 2, after signing cooperation agreements with CNN International and CNBC Europe.

The channel is to be "equal to leading Western news and analytical TV channels and adapted for the Russian audience," the company said in a statement.

RosBusinessConsulting, a Russian business information agency founded a decade ago, has secured $23 million for the project; $17 million from the agency itself and the remaining $6 million through a private debt placement with Western investors.

RBC said Monday that it expects the project to break even in two years.

Its partnership agreements with London-based CNN International and CNBC Europe were not mentioned at the preliminary launch in May, though CNBC employees had been brought in to help train the new staff. The agreements allow RBC-TV to broadcast some of their content and vice versa.

CNN will provide general world news coverage in exchange for the rights to use RBC-TV's reporting. CNBC, meanwhile, signed a two-year agreement with RBC to allow the network to translate and use its daily market reports from Europe, Asia and the United States.

"We can't send as many reporters to Iraq as CNN," RBC chairman German Kaplun said Monday by telephone. "But we wouldn't want to anyway. We are not planning to compete with Russia's nationwide TV channels."

Chris Cramer, president of CNN International, said in a statement that the RBC agreement was "an important step for CNN in ensuring we work with the right broadcasters in this rapidly developing market."

CNBC Europe's partnership with RBC comes as part of its strategy to develop local language affiliates, having established similar agreements in Italy, Turkey and the Middle East, the company said in a separate statement.

Despite RBC's high profile partners, no more than 10 percent to 15 percent of daily coverage will come from CNN or CNBC, Kaplun told The Moscow Times, adding that "we are first and foremost interested in local business news and trends."

RBC-TV will broadcast in Russian only, said Yury Rovensky, general director of RosBusinessConsulting, adding that there are no plans to launch an English-language service.

For live coverage retransmitted from CNN or CNBC with a short delay, the channel will use Russian subtitles or voiceover, but pre-recorded programs will be dubbed.

Rovensky said RBC is prepared to tape special reports in English if requested by one of its partners.

RBC-TV has a staff of 500 people, including more than 40 analysts from leading banks and financial institutions, including Deutsche Bank and Uneximbank.

The channel will be broadcast to viewers in St. Petersburg and Moscow via satellite providers NTV Plus and Kosmos TV, cable networks Comcor TV and Divo TV, as well as via Internet provider

The channel will initially be available to 2 million viewers, but is hoping to expand its audience to 7 million to 8 million in its first two years. The Comcon ratings agency estimates RBC-TV's potential audience at between 12 million and 14 million people.

A pilot version of the channel has been up and running for a small selection of subscribers since late June. NTV Plus subscribers have seen RBC's logo on their list of available channels, though the broadcasts in reality were only accessible by technicians for testing.

In addition to Moscow and St. Petersburg, 12 cities with populations of more than 1 million are expected to be covered by the end of September, Rovensky said by telephone Monday.

"The problems are purely bureaucratic, since we have all the technical capabilities to launch in all the 12 'millionaire-cities' at once," he said.

"Our audience is relatively small, but it is sizable enough to hope that we will break even in two years," Rovensky said.

RBC said the new channel targets top and middle managers, those involved in banking and consulting, government officials and economics students.

"According to official statistics, 10 percent of the Russian population accounts for roughly one-third of all income," Rovensky said. "This is our target audience."

RBC-TV's programming will include 18 hours of live news coverage, analysis and interviews with market experts, according to the statement. Some spots will be rerun to fill the remaining six hours of air time.

The station was originally slated to broadcast starting in mid-May, but was pushed back to coincide with the beginning of a new television season in September, Kaplun said.

The launching of RBC-TV is a sign of Russian market's maturity and continuing economic growth, he said.

"Something like this would have been impossible just a few years ago. There were simply not enough people that could potentially watch such a channel."