Russian Lawmakers Mull Extra Funding for Public Television of Russia

The station could collect $55.6 million in 2014, a 20 percent increase from this year.

MOSCOW -- Russian lawmakers are proposing an increase in state funding for Public Television of Russia (OTR), as the future of the recently launched station remains uncertain.

Deputies of the Russian Duma, the lower chamber of Parliament, have come with an initiative to increase the TV station's state funding by 20 percent to $55.6 million (1.8 billion rubles) a year as of 2014.

"We would like OTR to effectively work rather than be on the brink of survival," Leonid Levin, first deputy head of the Duma's information policy committee, was quoted as saying by business daily Kommersant. "So far, the amount of funding has not allowed the channel to grow and develop."

The idea of launching a new independent public channel was first voiced in late 2011 by then-President Dmitry Medvedev. And OTR, which went on the air last May, was viewed by many as an alternative to heavily censored state-run channels. Under original plans, the government would only provide $46.3 million (1.5 billion rubles) for the channel's launch, while later it would be funded by private donations.

The idea, however, didn't work, and OTR's general director Anatoly Lysenko complained last summer that the channel, which has shown more editorial independence than the country's top government-controlled stations, was running out of cash. The government promised to finance the channel on an annual basis, but it is already clear that the $46.3 million figure would not be sufficient.