Russia Today TV Channel Avoids Budget Cuts for 2013

VGTRK, Channel One and NTV will also collect new government cash.

MOSCOW – The Russian state-controlled English-language TV channel Russia Today has avoided cuts in funding for 2013 and is to receive 11.2 billion rubles ($355.6 million) from the government next year.

Similarly, the state run TV company VGTRK, which runs several channels, including Rossiya, Rossiya 2, Kultura and Rossiya 24, is going to collect 19.98 billion rubles ($634.3 million).

The Russian finance ministry tried to curb the appetites of the television companies, but was apparently unable to. The newspaper Novaya Gazeta has published a copy of a letter from Alexei Gromov, first deputy head of the president’s administration, to president Vladimir Putin, containing cuts suggested by the finance ministry, and Putin’s resolution that Russia Today, VGTRK and the newspaper Rossiyskaya Gazeta should receive all the funding they have requested.

The finance ministry had suggested that VGTRK’s funding should be curtailed by nine percent and that of Russia Today by 7.2 percent. Meanwhile, the requested 2013 budgets for the wire services RIA Novosti and ITAR-TASS are to be reduced 20 percent and 40 percent, respectively.

In total, the Russian government is to spend 72.5 billion rubles ($2.3 billion) on mass media in 2013. Several other major TV stations, including Channel One, NTV and Peterburg, are entitled to collect 5.3 billion rubles ($168 million), which are to cover their bills for delivering their signal to sparsely populated territories.