Ten Russian channels win digital licences

Winners include STS, TNT, Ren-TV

MOSCOW

Russia’s broadcasting regulator Roskomnadzor Friday announced the 10 channels that have won second-generation multiplex digital licenses.

The channels — chosen from 19 competitors — include top rating entertainment service STS and its daytime femme-skewed channel Domashny, both services that air a lot of Hollywood movies and Russian adaptations of hits such as “Everybody Loves Raymond” and “Ugly Betty.”

TNT, Ren-TV, TV Tsentr, pubcaster RTR’s Sport 1, NTV+Sport Plus, military history oriented channel Zvezda (Star), Mir and music channel Muz TV are also on the list.

Industrialist and media owner Vladimir Potanin’s ProfMedia holding, which operates MTV, 2X2 and TV3, were among the losers. The Kremlin’s international English-language service, Russia Today, applied, but later dropped out.

The contest, which was criticized for the participation fee of 722,000 roubles ($23,500), was limited to channels that devote at least 55% of broadcast content to locally produced programming.

The prize is a digital spectrum that gives 75% coverage across Russia’s vast territories, where viewers will be able to access the digital offer free of charge.

Winning channels must now make a down payment of $1.2 million to start their 10-year contracts, which are expected to cost $30 million over the life of the contracts.

The first digital spectrum was set up with government funds for eight, mostly public channels including Channel One, Rossiya 1 and 2, NTV and Channel 5.

A third digital spectrum, aimed at four regional and one HD channel, will be offered by 2015.

STS Media said Friday it had put in place a strategy to ensure that its channel Peretz, which did not win a digital license, could continue to offer a competitive service through the use of cable and satellite networks and the Internet.

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