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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Potanin Starts Free-to-Air Cartoon Channel

Billionaire Vladimir Potanin's Prof-Media will start airing its cartoon channel next month to expand the television unit in a growing market.

The cartoon channel, called 2x2, will begin to air in Moscow and St. Petersburg on April 1 and may later air in other Russian cities, Prof-Media first deputy CEO Yulia Solovyova told reporters Wednesday. The channel will show a variety of popular series including "The Simpsons," Japanese animation and Soviet-made cartoons.

The channel will target "tired" adults of large cities who "need to relax a little," said Natalya Vashko, chief executive officer of the 2x2 channel.

Prof-Media, which had $400 million in sales last year, is exiting the newspaper business to focus on newly acquired television and Internet assets, including Russia's TV3 network and the 2x2 channel.

Spending on television commercials grew 36 percent to $3.2 billion in 2006, twice as fast as spending on print ads, the Association of Communication Agencies reported.

Solovyova said Prof-Media had so far invested between $10 million and $15 million in the channel's marketing and content and expects its audience share to reach more than 2 percent this year.

Prof-Media expects to recoup the investment into the channel in three to four years, Solovyova said.