You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Russian TV cloudy

Reports say station ownership changes possible

MOSCOW — Russia’s TV world Tuesday went into a new and unprecedented state of uncertainty — for what’s supposed to be the quiet month of August — as rumors circulated that stake holdings in the country’s two most influential stations shortly will undergo changes.

The fact that speculation over the future of tycoon Boris Berezovsky’s supposed 49% stake in Russia’s Channel 1 ORT (Russian Public Television) hit the agency wires the same time as speculation that rival Vladimir Gusinsky’s Media-Most may agree a debt-for-equity swap with natural resources giant Gazprom may be no coincidence.

After Gusinsky’s unexpected release July 26 from criminal charges and his subsequent move to Spain, the rumors had been circulating that he had traded his freedom for relinquishing control of his flagship station NTV.

Conflicting coverage

Comment in leading business dailies Tuesday was ambiguous.

Independent paper Vedemosti led with a front-page story that charges against Gusinsky could be revived at any time, hinting that such news was being put out to keep Gusinsky guessing and effectively under Kremlin control.

Local paper Kommersant, owned by Berezovsky, suggested that Gusinsky had agreed to sell his major media interests to Gazprom and that all that remained were details of the deal.

According to this report, Gusinsky’s side asked for $350 million for his combined NTV — the station could return to relative profitability if local ad markets pick up — and Media-Most stakes (the latter is heavily indebted to foreign creditors through loans guaranteed by Gazprom).

Kommersant reported that the chief of Gazprom’s media subsid, Alfred Kokh, offered a starting price of $100 million for NTV, with no interest in related companies.

However, NTV vigorously rebuffed Kommersant’s story in its nightly newscast, which quoted a Media-Most statement that said Gusinsky’s aide Andrei Tsimailo, whom the story said had been conducting talks, had been on holiday since July 21.

On the other side of the coin, the future at ORT looks no less uncertain as agencies released interviews from Berezovsky on Tuesday that said he was considering passing control of his stake in Russia’s most widely watched channel back into state hands (NTV led the same night’s news report with the story).

More TV

  • The Play That Goes Wrong review

    BBC Orders Comedy Series Based on ‘The Play That Goes Wrong’

    The BBC has greenlit “The Goes Wrong Show,” a new series based on Mischief Theatre’s popular “The Play That Goes Wrong” stage production about a troupe that puts on disastrous plays. The stage show has transferred from London’s West End to Broadway for a J.J. Abrams-produced version described by Variety as “a broad, silly and [...]

  • WGA West Logo

    Writers Guild Sends Hollywood Agents Proposed Code of Conduct

    Leaders of the Writers Guild of America have sent Hollywood talent agencies a proposed “Code of Conduct” with tough new restrictions on how they operate as agents for writer clients. The WGA made the disclosure Thursday night in an email to its 12,000 members, a day after announcing that it will hold a March 25 [...]

  • Jussie Smollett court

    Jussie Smollett's Attorneys Say He Was Victim of Police 'Spectacle'

    Jussie Smollett’s legal team issued a defiant statement on Thursday night, saying the “Empire” actor feels betrayed by the justice system and hinting at a political motive for his prosecution. Smollett was arrested early Thursday on a felony charge of filing a false police report. He was released after a court hearing on $100,000 bond, [...]

  • Carra Patterson Sarah Levy Paola Lazaro

    Fox Casts Four Leads in 'Patty's Auto' Pilot

    Fox has announced the casting of four lead characters for its multi-cam comedy pilot “Patty’s Auto,” including the eponymous Patty. Inspired by Patrice Banks’ Girls Auto Clinic, an auto repair shop with all female mechanics, the project centers on Patty, the intimidating owner of Patty’s Auto who will be played by “Straight Outta Compton” alumna [...]

  • Adam Pally Abby Elliott

    Adam Pally, Abby Elliott Join Cast of NBC Comedy Pilot 'Uninsured'

    NBC pilot “Uninsured” has cast four of its series regulars, with Adam Pally (“The Mindy Project,” “The President Show”) and Abby Elliott (“Saturday Night Live,” “Odd Mom Out”) playing the young married couple at the center of the show. Pally will play Dave, who is described as a “natural hype man with a good heart.” Elliott [...]

  • Jussie Smollett Appeared in Documentary on

    Jussie Smollett Recently Hosted Doc on Lynching, Filmmaker Talks 'Coincidence'

    In May 2018, Jussie Smollett appeared as the narrator and correspondent in an episode of the Epix documentary series “America Divided” that explored the subject of hate crimes, specifically lynching, in the state of Tennessee. Now that the “Empire” actor has been charged with filing a false police report and Chicago police are convinced he [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content