NTV's ex-boss Kiselyev takes reins at rival

MOSCOW — Yevgeny Kiselyev, former boss of troubled TV station NTV, has been voted director general at rival TV-6, despite opposition from two minority shareholders who are initiating legal action against the channel.

Kiselyev is backed by media mogul Boris Berezovsky, who controls 75% of TV-6. His appointment confirms the position of staffers who followed their chief from NTV, the only politically independent web, after Kremlin-backed utility company Gazprom took over April 13 in a boardroom coup.

TV-6 minority shareholders, including a pension fund related to petroleum giant Lukoil, which has a 15% stake, fear Kiselyev will try to recreate NTV’s style by hardening news programming and taking a controversial political stance on issues.

But whether the station’s backers have the funds to support that is another matter. It’s rumored the $8 million monthly operating costs proposed by Kiselyev have been cut back to $5 million — and even then it’s not clear where the money will come from.

Critics fear Kiselyev’s changes will turn the entertainment-oriented station into a loss-maker, pointing out that Germany’s Kirch Group has halted talks about investing in the station.

Despite the uncertainly, Kiselyev has relaunched two of NTV’s flagship satirical shows on TV-6: the weekly “Itogon” and nightly, partially animated “Tushite Svetn.” Both began airing this week.

Resignations from TV-6 managers and journalists continued Monday. The station’s chief producer Ivan Demidov said he would not work there further, even though he was re-elected to its board the same day.

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