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Prof-Media restructures operations

Move follows series of acquisitions

MOSCOW — One of Russia’s biggest media holdings, Prof-Media — part of industrialist Vladimir Potanin’s Interros group — is undergoing extensive corporate restructuring to save money and increase efficiency after completing a series of major television acquisitions.

Moscow-based Prof-Media plans to create a unified television studio complex for entertainment network TV 3, music channel MTV Russia and 24 hour adult cartoon station 2X2, after completing a program of unifying and streamlining financial, administrative and other services, the company said Thursday. Unified service sales — under the command of TV 3 executive Yan Kukhalsky — had already been achieved, Yulia Solovyeva, Prof Media’s general director told business daily Kommersant.

The creation of a unified corporate structure for the three stations — which currently was being called Prof-Media Plus — should enable the company to reduce operating costs by as much as 20%, industry observers say.

Prof-Media’s acquisitions began with the purchase in February 2006 of then little used Moscow frequency 2X2 for a reported $30 million and was followed later that year by the $550 million it paid for TV3 — a Russia-wide network of owned and affiliated entertainment stations founded in 1996 by U.S. television veteran Tim McDonald.

MTV Russia entered its stable earlier this year.

Solovyeva said the restructuring had begun with the purchase of 2X2 — a channel that when purchased ran little more than films and music clips, but was relaunched earlier this year as a 24 hour adult cartoon service.

Growth in ratings for the channels — which now attract between 2.3% (TV 3) and 1.2% (MTV Russia), with 2X2 garnering 2% — made a unified holding a more attractive proposition for advertisers, Solovyeva said.

Continued growth in Russia’s television advertising market — worth an estimated $3 billion annually — and a new advertising service contract with Video International, Russia’s leading advertising sales house for the unified television group, which is due to be introduced in 2008, should help increase revenues for Prof-Media Plus, she added.

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