Russian TV must be partly free

Operators to provide eight channels

MOSCOW -- The Russian government will make a list of eight television channels that all local TV operators, including cable and satellite, will be obliged to broadcast for free.

Although details are still unclear, state-run channels Rossiya, Channel One and Kultura will almost certainly be included, and competition for the other slots is likely to be fierce.

Vitaly Stytsko, head of the digital television department at the Russian communication ministry, said Thursday that relevant clauses will be added to operators' license agreements, and neither the government nor the channels will compensate the operators' expenses.

The measure is aimed at bringing into order the relationship between television channels and operators and will allow operators to charge for channels that don't make the list of eight.
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