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NTV to cut spending

New topper sets cuts in programming, staff

MOSCOW — Russia’s leading commercial channel, NTV, will try to slash expenditures in a bid to balance its books, the station’s director general Boris Jordan said Tuesday in Washington, D.C.

Jordan, who was elected director general April 3 and assumed control of the channel 10 days later, said NTV’s current annual expenditure stands at around $94 million, with ad revenue of $75 million-$80 million.

Cutbacks to affect news

Jordan set a target spend of $70 million, to be achieved by cuts in the number of daily news programs NTV broadcasts and its network of correspondents. However, remaining new broadcasts will be longer, and there should be an overall increase for other programming budgets.

Though political controversy over the change of management may be subsiding, Jordan stressed that NTV soon would introduce a corporate charter and launch a consultative body made up of respected international journalists — three Russian, two American and one European — by July.

The legality of the April 3 decision is still being disputed in Russian courts by NTV’s previous director general, Yevgeny Kiselyev, who moved with a considerable chunk of NTV’s staff to rival net TV-6, as well as by Vladimir Gusinsky’s Media-Most holding, which is still a major shareholder in the channel.

Ad revs seen growing

Regarding NTV’s future, Jordan said he expected an annual increase in ad revenues of 25%-30% in the mid-term. He added that the station would need six to 12 months for financial reappraisal, before perhaps looking for an international investor.

According to other reports circulating in the Russian capital, however, the channel may be seeking short-term recapitalization of about $75 million to ease a debt burden estimated at $100 million-$110 million.