Definitions

Fatherland - All Russia

Channel One (Russia)

Channel One (Пе́рвый кана́л, Pervy kanal; ) is the Russian TV channel with the widest reception area. According to a recent government publication, the Russian government controls 51% of its shares. Its headquarters are in the Technical Center "Ostankino" near the Ostankino Tower, Moscow.

Production

Channel One remains the most prosperous of Russian TV channels and wields the largest budget by far. It airs the Russian adaptations of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?, Survivor, and Star Factory, as well as many homegrown productions. It has produced many high-profile films, including four of the highest-grossing Russian movies ever, Night Watch (2004), The Turkish Gambit (2005), Day Watch (2006), and The Irony of Fate 2 (2007).

History

When the Soviet Union was abolished, the Russian Federation took over most of its structures and institutions. One of the first acts of Boris Yeltsin’s new government was his signing of a presidential decree on 27 December 1991, providing for Russian jurisdiction over the central television system. The ‘All-Union State TV and Radio Company’ (Gosteleradio) was transformed into the 'Russian State TV and Radio Company Ostankino'.

A presidential decree of 30 November 1994 transformed Ostankino into a closed joint-stock company, Russian Public TV (Obshchestvennoe Rossiyskoye Televidenie or ORT). The shares were distributed between state agencies (51%) and private shareholders, including numerous banks (49%). The partial privatization was inspired by the intolerable financial situation of Ostankino, owing to huge transmission costs and a bloated payroll (total staff of about 10,000 in early 1995).

From 1994 until 1 September 2002 the channel was called ORT (ОРТ—Общественное Российское Телевидение, Public Russian Television). It maintained the traditional programs and shows of the First Channel of the Soviet Television (RTO), such as Vremya, KVN, Chto? Gde? Kogda?, V mire zhivotnykh and Klub puteshestvennikov; the last two are no longer on the air of this channel.

Political coverage

In autumn of 1999 the channel actively participated in State Duma electoral campaign by criticizing Moscow mayor Yuriy Luzhkov, Yevgeny Primakov and their party Fatherland-All Russia, major opponents of the pro-Putin party Unity. Sergey Dorenko, popularly dubbed as TV-killer, was a close ally of business oligarch and media magnate Boris Berezovsky. From September 1999 to September 2000 he hosted the influential weekly program simply called Sergey Dorenko's Program on Saturdays at 9pm. This was especially heavy on criticism and mercilessly attacked Putin’s opponents.

In August 2000, however, his program criticized how the Putin government handled the explosion of the Russian submarine Kursk. When Dorenko’s show was in turn suspended on September 9, 2000, ORT director-general Konstantin Ernst insisted that — contrary to Dorenko's allegations — the government had not been involved in the change. Ernst state that he yanked the show because Dorenko had defied his orders to stop discussing the government's plan to nationalize Boris Berezovsky's 49-percent stake in the network.

Berezovsky claims that in 2001 he was forced by the Putin administration to sell his shares. He first tried to sell them to a third party, but failed. A close friend of Berezovsky, Nikolai Glushkov, was arrested while seriously ill, and Berezovsky gave up the shares (and, according to some sources, transferred them to Roman Abramovich's Sibneft) with the understanding that Glushkov would then be released. This promise was not fulfilled. Soon after Berezovsky's withdrawal, the new ownership changed the channel's name to Pervy Kanal (Channel One). Konstantin Ernst remains as general director. As of 2008, Channel One's minority shares are held by three little-known companies, ORT-KB, Eberlink-2002, and Rastrkom. Some speculate that these companies are owned by Roman Abramovich, although this claim lacks definitive proof.

Russian television media in the Putin era have been criticized for the pro-government bias. The critics charge that Channel One's news and information programs are frequently used for propaganda purposes. These critics contend that Channel One airs a disproportionate amount of stories focusing on positive aspects of official government policy, while largely neglecting certain controversial topics such as war in Chechnya or social problems. In addition, some have argued that the station's news reports often blur the line between factual reporting and editorial commentary, especially when broadcasting stories concerning Russian government policies or goals. For example, during the 2004 Ukrainian Presidential elections, many political observers believe the Russian government actively supported the candidacy of then Ukrainian Prime-minister Viktor Yanukovich over that of Viktor Yushchenko. In an October 13, 2004 news story, Channel One reporter Natalya Kondratyuk declared that "the Premier [Yanukovich], as a candidate, is adding to his ratings by working on the economy and by solving current social problems; he does not use slogans; he is not criticizing his opponent; and he is not creating scandals. Yushchenko’s style of campaigning is diametrically opposite."

In another controversial example, on a 23 January 2005 broadcast, in the midst of widespread protests against a new reform of Russia's social benefits system (L'goty), a Channel One anchor opined, "you can understand, and should understand, those who went out on the streets, but you also have to understand that the old system has completely outlived its use." Later, in the same story, a reporter characterized those protesting against the reforms as political opportunists, adding, "criticizing the reform is good PR." A few days later, on 27 January 2005, as the protests continued across Russia, a Channel One reporter noted, "You can understand the elderly [protestors, but] repealing free [bus] fares was the last hope for public transport."

Similarly, on a 12 February 2005 broadcast, a Channel One anchor declared, "The key question of the week has been: how are Presidents [[Mikheil Saakashvili|[Mikheil] Saakashvili]] [of Georgia]) and Yushchenko [of Ukraine] different? At first, it seemed the difference was only in their appearance, in all other ways, they were like characters from the film Attack of the Clones for us." Critics of Channel One news argue that hundreds of similar examples exist where station news reporters and anchors insert editorial commentary into news reports, almost always to commend perceived allies of Russia or criticize perceived enemies.

As of 2006, Vladimir Posner, Ekaterina Andreeva, Petr Tolstoy and Mikhail Leontiev are among the most prominent political journalists of the channel. On Sunday, 28 January 2006, the Channel One news and analytical program Sunday Time (Voskresnoye Vremya) hosted by Petr Tolstoy distorted the content of a speech by Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko related to the Russia-Belarus energy dispute to the contrary by editing it and deleting some crucial words.

Criticism for cruelty to animals

The morning of 12 January 2008 on the program Health («Здоровье») with Elena Malysheva about Guillain-Barre syndrome, in one of the sections a rat was violently killed. Some of the viewers said, first, that this was intolerable in a program whose audience includes children and, secondly, it was contrary to the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation. In particular, some claim that viewing such violent and cruel scenes poorly affected the health of some children and people..

Management and shareholders

2005

According to the inspection conducted by the Audit Chamber of Russia and initiated by MP Alexander Lebedev, in 2005 the channel had the following shareholders structure and board of directors:

  • Rosimushchestvo – 38.9 %
  • ORT Bank Consortium – 24%
  • RastrKom 2002 – 14%
  • EberLink – 11%
  • ITAR TASS – 9.1 %
  • TTTs – 3%

Alexey Gromov (Chairman of the Board of Directors, Press Secretary of President Vladimir Putin)
Konstantin Ernst (Director General of the Channel One)
Alexander Dzasokhov (then President of North Ossetia-Alania)
Galina Karelova (Chairman of Russia's Social Insurance Fund)
Mikhail Lesin (Adviser to President Vladimir Putin, former Mass Media Minister)
Nikita Mikhalkov (President of Russia's Cinematographers Union)
Mikhail Piotrovsky (Director of the State Hermitage Museum)
Ilya Reznik (poet, composer)
Alexander Chaikovsky (Chairman of the Composition Department of Moscow Conservatory)
Mikhail Shvydkoi (Chief of the Federal Agency of Culture and Cinematography, former Culture Minister of Russia)

ORT Bank Consortium, RastrKom 2002 and EberLink (49%) are controlled by Roman Abramovich, while Rosimushchestvo, ITAR TASS and TTTs vote on behalf of the Russian state (51%).

2006

As of 2006, the Board of Directors of the Channel One consisted of:

Sergei Naryshkin (Chairman of the Board of Directors, Minister, Chief of Staff of the Russian Government)
Konstantin Ernst (Director General of the Channel One)
Lyudmila Pridanova (Deputy Head of Rosimushchestvo)
Alexey Gromov (Press Secretary of President Vladimir Putin)
Mikhail Lesin (Adviser to President Vladimir Putin, former Mass Media Minister)
Nikita Mikhalkov (President of Russia's Cinematographers Union)
Mikhail Piotrovsky (Director of the State Hermitage Museum)
Ilya Reznik (poet, composer)
Alexander Chaikovsky (Chairman of the Composition Department of Moscow Conservatory, Rector of Saint Petersburg Conservatory)
Mikhail Shvydkoi (Chief of the Federal Agency of Culture and Cinematography, former Culture Minister of Russia)

ESC 2009

Channel One are meant to be the host broadcaster of Eurovision Song Contest 2009.

Sister channels

Channel One owns some digital television stations:

External links

Notes

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