Employees could set up production company

The saga of Russia’s troubled Fifth Channel took another twist Tuesday when the head of the holding company that owns the St. Petersburg-based net offered employees a chance to set up an independent production company to supply programs.

Vladimir Hanumyan, general director of National Media Group TV, suggested the option as a way of addressing workers’ fears over job losses related to plans to restructure the station.

Leonid Malyarov, head of documentaries at the channel, told St. Petersburg’s Web portal Lenizdat.ru the program could employ around 450 workers.

The proposal came after management said that 500 jobs were at risk in the department, Malyarov said, although the station’s owners deny planning to pinkslip employees.

The channel hit the headlines last month after more than 1,000 out of 1,700 employees penned an open letter to President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin voicing fears for their jobs.

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