We all are at the mercy of God. And of Lesin…

No sensation. Yesterday, after almost 5-hour sitting, the Federal Competition Commission designated who would broadcast in the 6th channel of Russia television. The winner is, as expected, Media-Sotsium non-profit “union” of ex-Russian Premier Yevgeny Primakov, Arkady Volsky and journalists of former TV-6 channel with Yevgeny Kiselev at the head and representatives of large-scale business. Every of the competitors had 10 minutes to present his concept of broadcasting. However, Media-Sotsium spoke a bit longer – about 40 minutes. The first, who decided something to say to journalists, was playwright and one of founders of Independent Broadcasting Corporation, Viktor Merezhko. “Nothing could be predicted. We are all at the mercy of God. And of Lesin…” Journalists were not admitted to the sitting of the competition commission, because the talk about concept of broadcasting which was carried out with every of the 13 pretenders separately is a commercial secret. State Duma deputies also were not admitted to the sitting, because, according to the jury, that would signify “distrust to the jury’s members.” After all the participants presented their concepts, they had for a long time to wait for results. Member of the commission and famous TV journalist Vladimir Posner was short-spoken: “The whole sitting was carried out an a tense, but friendly atmosphere. Professionalism of Kiselev’s team was decisive.” Afterwards, press minister Mikhail Lesin came out to the journalists. While answering the question “Why did it last so long?” , he said that “there were obvious leaders, while it was to difficult to choose one among them, we had to compare all pluses and minuses, and only afterwards to take a decision.” According to Lesin, the jury unanimously voted for Media-Sotsium. At the same time, political aspect plaid no role. Speakig about criteria of the choice, Lesin mentioned “the journalist team’s concept of broadcasting, programme policy, principles of financing, degree of professionalism.” All these factors seem to be most obviously expressed in Media-Sotsium, however, there was one more factor, which is not so obvious: the Kremlin’s support. After all “i’s” were dotted, only Media-Sotsium’s representative got to journalists’ field of vision. “I am happy, - Yevgeny Kiselev said smiling. – I was so excited. And now we can go to have a drink.” According to Kiselev, the company starts broadcasting “as soon as possible.” The broadcasting license costs 1 million dollars, this sum will be paid to the state within one month. Here, there is opinion of one of Media-Sotsium’s founders, the leader of Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Yevgeny Primakov, which sounded in Vesti-RTR programme: “I suppose, that the fight must be fair. We must create television that will be public in the literal sense of the word, without pressure upon it by the state or by an oligarch…” Arkady Volsky, president of Russian Union of Manufacturers and Businessmen agrees with Primakov: “We will try to do so, that the channel does not get to the state or to businessmen’ hands. Investors cannot meddle in the stuff’s work or press upon its editorial policy.” While Vladimir Posner takes a sober view of things: “This is business. And any way, this will be a commercial television.” As for the West’s reaction, Posner supposes it will be the same in every case. If the commission supported Media-Sotsium, it acted according to the Kremlin’s order, the comment will follow. If the commission had not supported Media-Sotsium, the West would have said that the commission “executes the Kremlin’s order to suppress freedom of speech in Russia.” Posner was not far from the truth. According to the Press Ministry, the winner starts broadcasting since June 1. For the time being, temporary licence will act, till the full liquidation of MNVK stock company.

Sergei Yugov PRAVDA.Ru

Translated by Vera Solovieva

Read the original in Russian: http://www.pravda.ru/main/2002/03/28/38899.html

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