Russian net expanding

CTC Media spreads to Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan

MOSCOW — Russia’s CTC Media web is expanding into Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, both members of the Commonwealth of Independent States that replaced the former Soviet Union.

The entertainment net is using coin raised in last year’s Nasdaq flotation to acquire a majority share of Kazakhstan’s Channel 31 group for around $65 million.

CTC Media will also have majority ownership of affiliate companies that will provide the advertising sales and programming content for Channel 31.

With a population of more than 15 million people and a fast-growing economy, Kazakhstan has significant potential for growth in the TV advertising market, which industry experts estimated at about $200 million in 2006.

“With younger viewers comprising an unusually high proportion of total audience in the country, CTC’s focus on younger demographics provides us with an attractive opportunity to gain audience share,” says CTC Media CEO Alexander Rodnyansky.

Local partners will be led by Armanjan Baitasov, who will run the venture.

In Uzbekistan, a country with a population of 27 million, CTC is partnering with Uzbek media holding company Terra Group to set up Channel 30. CTC Media will own 51% of the company and operations are expected to start next year.

“In co-operation with our local partners, we are in a unique position to reshape and develop the Uzbek TV landscape,” Rodnyansky says.

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