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Saturday, 1 June, 2002, 13:42 GMT 14:42 UK
Russian station back with new owners
TV-6 closure
Many of TV-6's staff are returning to their old jobs
An independent Russian television channel known for criticising the government has returned to the airwaves under new ownership, more than four months after being taken off air.

Channel Six - now called TVS - began broadcasting on Saturday morning on the same frequency as before, and with many of the same liberal journalists on the payroll.

The channel is under new ownership, which includes a number of pro-government tycoons and former Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov, who has retained strong links with the Kremlin.

TVS star presenter Yevgeny Kiselyov
Kiselyov is scheduled to return to his Sunday night slot
Correspondents say there are concerns TVS' editorial independence may have been severely curtailed, despite Mr Primakov's assurances not to interfere with coverage.

Another Russian broadcaster, NTV, appeared to be under threat on Saturday, as its broadcasting licence, due to expire at midnight, has not been renewed.

A press ministry spokesman has said there were several grievances against NTV, which was taken over by state-connected natural gas monopoly Gazprom in 2001 amid a fierce debate over media freedom.

Controversial closure

In its earlier guise as TV-6, the station was part of the media interests of the exiled tycoon, Boris Berezovsky, an opponent of President Vladimir Putin.

It was ordered to close in controversial circumstances in January, prompting concern about journalistic freedoms in Russia.

A Russian court ruled on Thursday that the closure of TV-6 in January had been illegal.

It was ordered on a technicality after a shareholder with government links petitioned that the station was insolvent.

'Miracle' reappearance

TVS began broadcasting at 0800 Moscow time (0400 GMT) on Saturday with a children's film Old Khottabych, an immensely popular film from the Soviet era about a genie who gets a Russian child into trouble by giving bad advice.

"We wanted to begin with something bright," TVS official Tatyana Blinova said.

"It is a film about miracles."

Channel representatives said the outspoken anchorman Yevgeny Kiselyov would return to host his popular Sunday night programme Itogi.

Mr Kiselyov and his team, which he led from NTV to TV-6, had planned to make their own independent pitch to retake the channel.

See also:

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14 Apr 01 | Europe
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27 Mar 02 | Europe
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