Russian Communists to Launch TV Station

The country's second-largest political party will become Russia's first to go on the air with its own TV channel.

MOSCOW -- The Russian communist party's Siberian branch has obtained a broadcasting license and is launching a TV channel, Obkom TV, creating a precedent for a local political party.

"The party's central committee supports the initiative aimed at the development of the party's television channel," said Alexander Kravets, head of the communist party's chapter in the major Siberian city of Omsk, according to the business daily Kommersant.

He added that the operation of the channel will about $83,000 (2.9 million rubles) a year, and the bill is to be footed by unnamed sponsors.

The new channel is to broadcast in a sparsely populated region 1,800 miles east of Moscow, dotted with decaying Soviet-era industrial cities with large communist voting electorates. In Omsk, the communists enjoy support of about 30 percent of voters.

The channel's name, Obkom TV, is a reference to the Soviet era, when the regional committee (obkom) of the communist party was considered to be the highest authority.

The Omsk communists have signed an agreement with the local cable channel, R Telecom Holding, and plan to expand broadcasting to other regions in Siberia.

"We obtained the license in order to help our comrades to organize political and educational broadcasting in all neighboring regions," Kravets explained. "We are talking primarily about Novosibirsk, Kemerovo, Tyumen, Kurgan and Altai regions." He added that there are plans to create TV studios in all of those regions in 2014 and 2015.

The communists are the first Russian political party to launch a TV channel. The communist party of Russia is the country's second-largest political party after the ruling United Russia, which is headed by Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev.