Interview with Mikhail Shvidkoi, Chairman of VGTRK
- How do you explain the decline in the ratings of the news program
- That’s partially due to seasonal factors, and in part it’s due to a
lack of funds. You can’t do TV without money. We’ve managed for a
year, and now we’re starting to feel the effects. Although we got limited
funding, most of that went to pay off debts, to establish a holding
company, and so forth. For program policy — not much was left. Also,
from last December until March, when we were in our worst period,
the administration of VGTRK, frankly, was only serious about “Vesti,”
and we can see the result. Probably on the eve of the upcoming changes
in July and August there was a breakdown of internal organization. I
think that in July we’ll have everything taken care of.
- How will ” Vesti” he changed?
- “Vesti” is going to a two-hour slot. We’ll be broadcasting 12
information shows during a 24-hour period. Every two hours we’ll be
putting the news on the air, but that doesn’t mean we’re going to
become CNN. The viewer is assured of five installments of “Vesti” in
a 24-hour period. Each broadcast will sift through the previous news
program, leaving out stale items and adding breaking news. The really
important thing is that “Vesti” will air at 9:00 PM. Over the last ten
years the audience has gotten used to watching the news at that time
on the state channel. And now we’re going to give them that chance. Of course, we also want to change the design of the program, and the way of putting the news on the air.
- Will the program be aired in a new format?
- We’re intending to have a tighter news program. The formats
for the broadcasts will run no more than 20—30 minutes. We can
cover twice as many stories as ORT or even NTV. We have a bigger
network of correspondents and greater potential.
- Are you going to take up complaints with the bosses of” Vesti?”
- Naturally, and I’m going to put them on the table. For example,
there’s the problem of control, and there are creative problems. It
seems to me that the team we now have at “Vesti” can take care of
all that. Nothing unusual is happening. These are all internal processes,
and we’ll be dealing with them. I think that by September we’ll have
— Do the authorities still have problems with the information
programs of VGTRK?
- If that were so, I think I’d just have been let go as chairman
of the company. We have a normal relationship with the President’s
administration, and with the government, and with the parliament. A
normal working dialogue with everyone. As a state channel, we are
trying to keep the balance that is needed today regarding the
dissemination of information. I don’t see any major problems.
- The decision of the administration of the company to take the
program ” Top Secret” off the air arouses suspicions that this decision was
imposed on you from the top. What’s your take on that?
- Each time we take any decisions that evoke a public response,
for some reason everyone starts saying that these decisions aren’t being
taken by the administration of VGTRK, but by someone else. Frankly
speaking I’m surprised by the fuss about the decision on “Top Secret.”
The same thing happened for the program on the war in the Balkans,
and for the program on the investigation of the murder of Galina
Starovoitova. The same holds true for the most recent broadcast. I
didn’t much like the reaction of Artem Borovik, who quoted the
correspondent of R1A “Vesti.” He immediately started talking about
how he had compromising material regarding corruption at VGTRK.
If he’s an honest journalist and he has such material, he should have
published it regardless of whether or not the program is on the RTR
channel. Of course, it’s not fun to read dirt about yourself, particularly
when it’s not true. But I’d prefer to read such things when “Top
Secret” is happily out on the airwaves. I’m eagerly looking forward to
those publications, so that I’ll get my chance to sue “Top Secret.”