[ home page][map of the server][news of the server][forums][publications][hot issues]
The Russia Journal

TV6 mulls closure, prepares appeal

January 25, 2002

MOSCOW - Directors of the largest Russian television station outside Kremlin control said Monday they could start winding up the company next month, if a last-ditch legal appeal of a court closure order failed.

A Moscow court last month ordered TV6 to shut down, citing statutory irregularities. But the station's top news presenter and general director, Yevgeny Kiselyov, said it intended to appeal the verdict.

TV6 says it is the latest victim of a campaign by President Vladimir Putin to silence alternatives to official propaganda, after the state-backed natural gas monopoly Gazprom took over the independent NTV network.

``There is a political background to it of which everyone is aware,'' said Kiselyov, who held an identical position at NTV before the takeover.

The court ordered TV6 to shut down after ruling it had failed to meet statutory financial requirements over a three year period, a charge dismissed by the company.

``Forget about an economic dispute. The essence is plain for all to see,'' said board member Igor Shabdurasulov.

An extraordinary shareholders' meeting was to convene on January 14 to vote on dismissal of the board and start liquidation procedures.

The legal challenge to TV6 was launched by a minority shareholder, a pension fund linked to Russia's biggest oil producer LUKOIL. The channel says the fund is doing the Kremlin's bidding but the Kremlin has denied involvement.

TV6, owned by self-exiled businessman Boris Berezovsky who has fallen foul of the Kremlin, became a refuge for many NTV veterans who left after Gazprom's takeover last April.

Once regarded as a second-tier channel, its ratings and revenues have grown rapidly in recent months, driven in part by its mega-hit reality TV show ``Behind The Glass.'' The company says it will continue broadcasting as usual, for now.

TV6's plight bears striking similarities to that of NTV, which also came under intense legal pressure during a politically-charged battle with a powerful energy giant.

The TV6 struggle has drawn an angry outcry from both leftist and right-wing politicians. But the reaction has been muted compared to the heated debates and street rallies which preceded Gazprom's takeover of NTV.

U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell, interviewed by TV6 in Moscow Sunday, promised to raise the issue of media freedoms with Putin at a meeting Tuesday, but declined to comment on the row over thec channel. /Reuters/

See also:
TV6 case

The Russia Journal

[home page][map of the server][news of the server][forums][publications][hot issues]