Interview with Mikhail Shvidkoi, Chairman of VGTRK

Interview with Mikhail Shvidkoi, Chairman of VGTRK

  • How do you explain the decline in the ratings of the news program
    ” Vesti?”
  • 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
    everything settled.

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.”

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