Russian gov't changes plan to fund digital

Viewers must buy own equipment, saving $5.5 bil

MOSCOW -- The Russian government will no longer fully finance the country’s switch to digital television, planned to be completed by 2015.

Under the original plan, the government was intending to finance the purchase of digital reception equipment for all of the country’s households Now, however, according to a decision made Oct. 31 by the communications ministry, viewers will have to purchase the equipment by themselves, saving the government 150 billion rubles ($5.5 billion).

The ministry provided no explanation for the change of plan, but observers assume it is a result of the global economic downturn.

Low-income population groups will be entitled to support from local budgets.