Russian Public TV to Be Funded by Private Stations

MOSCOW – The introduction of a public TV station, which has been heavily discussed over the last few months in Russia, would cost the existing private channels 3 percent of their ad revenues, if the current concept were accepted.

The recently published concept stipulates that the public station shall be funded from the federal budget, by sponsors and from the national fund for supporting the development of public broadcast, a new body to be formed specifically for this purpose. Amendments to the country’s mass media law will have to be made to allow this type of funding.

The developers of the concept suggested that private television channels should contribute 3 percent of their ad revenues to the fund, which would be sufficient for the new channel’s operation.

“There will be no ads on the public television channel,” Mikhail Fedotov, head of the president’s human rights council, who also heads the development of the public television, was quoted as saying by the daily Izvestiya. “It won’t participate in dividing the ad pie, and it wouldn’t be fair if the market’s other players didn’t share [their ad revenues with it].”

Meanwhile, market players say they fear that the introduction of this practice would lead to channels’ hiding their ad revenues and using other “grey” schemes like those popular in the 1990s. The public TV channel could go in the air in late 2012 or early 2013, according to previous reports.