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Path for imports thin but navigable


MOSCOW — Local drama fare continues to dominate Russian television, with imports remaining the exceptions rather than the rule.

Many of those exceptions are in formats. Locally adapted reality shows are growing apace, while adaptation of foreign long-format dramas has proved successful.

Latest from commercial entertainment station CTC is “30-year-olds,” based on Chile’s “Los 30.” Alexander Rodnyansky, topper at CTC, hopes to replicate the runaway success of “Born Not Ugly,” (based on Columbia-originated “Yo soy Betty, la fea”) which ended last year after a run of record ratings.

CTC is ahead on another trend as well — expansion beyond Russia’s borders. Rodnyansky recently announced new ventures in both Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan that should bring in some new priorities on the acquisition front.

Other consolidation over the last year has also opened new niches — like at 2X2, relaunched as a toon channel that is buying animation steadily. Serious documentaries remain in demand as well — like the wildlife shows that are a staple of weekend daytime on Channel One, and cultural-historical programs that remain prominent on dedicated channel Kultura.

Overall consensus seems to be that top-quality fare will continue to find a market, while midrange product will be more pressed. Situation is also skewed by the fact that Russia’s top two broadcasters, Channel One and pubcaster Rossiya, won’t show some of the edgier foreign fare, given their more conservative and often older audiences.

However, that may change in the territory’s run-up to digital transmission, scheduled to happen by 2012. According to Mikhail Shvydkoi, head of the Federal Agency for Culture and Cinematography, Russian stations by then will need up to 6,000 hours of domestic programming annually, against around 2,000 being produced at the moment.

“There won’t be enough content … especially for television,” Shvydkoi said recently.

While that may get the local production industry booming, it could make for an eventual, if perhaps temporary, return to the mid-1990s when Russian acquisitions were far stronger than today.


1.Always Say Always — 3 (Rossiya)

2. Quiet Flows the Don (Channel One)

3. Leningrad (Channel One)

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