New Russian channel fails to find friends

Less than half have heard of Lysenko's web

MOSCOW — Announced in a fanfare of publicity just before President Dmitry Medvedev stepped down to make way for a third term for Vladimir Putin, Russia’s new independent public television channel remains a mystery to most Russians.

Five months after Medvedev announced the creation of the new channel, designed to be independent of both commercial and political influence and to be funded by a combination of tax-exempt donations and a levy on advertising from other networks, the project is already looking like a white elephant.

Medvedev, now prime minister, has said little about since the announcement, and a new poll by the Public Opinion Foundation shows that less than half of Russians have heard of it.

The new Public Television (OTV) is supposed to rely on voluntary donations but only 14% of people polled across Russia said they would be willing to pay for it. Most — 72% — said they would not.

A third of respondents think Russia needs an independent channel, 12% think not, but more than half (53%) are indifferent, volunteering no opinion, the poll found.

The channel, due to go live next year, possibly on a frequency currently used by the pro-military Star (Zvezda) channel, is headed by Anatoly Lysenko, whom 73% of those polled had never heard of.