Russian Broadcasters Form New Production Company

AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko, file
NMG owner Yuri Kovalchuk

State-run VGTRK and National Media Group (NMG) have 40 percent stakes in the new company.

Russian broadcasting behemoths, state-run VGTRK and National Media Group (NMG), controlled by Yuri Kovalchuk, an entrepreneur close to President Vladimir Putin, have formed a content production company: Prime Time.

The two broadcasters are holding equal 40 percent stakes in the new company, and another 20 percent went to its general director, Vyacheslav Murugov, former general producer of the private broadcaster CTC Media.

Murugov left CTC Media, where he spent 10 years, to head Prime Time.

Meanwhile, CTC Media, which also originally planned to take part in the project, was eventually left out of the deal.

The Russian business daily Kommersant quoted an anonymous source at CTC Media as saying that the company chose not to join forces with the other two broadcasters because it's currently in the process of restructuring.

The broadcaster was forced to restructure following a law adopted last year limiting foreign ownership in Russian media companies by 20 percent stakes. Currently, Sweden's Modern Times Group owns a 39 percent stake in CTC Media.

In accordance with the Kommersant report, Prime Time is discussing several projects with Russia's major free-to-air stations, one of which could be executed in partnership with Art Pictures Vision, a TV series arm of Fyodor Bondarchuk's Art Pictures. Incidentally, NMG owns a 50 percent stake in Art Pictures Vision.

Meanwhile, Russian networks are expected to cut content acquisition by 40 percent this year against the backdrop of a sweeping economic crisis.