Joint Baltic Russian TV channel a non-starter

Plans for a potential Russian-language television channel to serve Russian-speakers in all three Baltic states were nixed Wednesday by the deputy head of Lithuania's national broadcaster LRT, who placed the blame for the failure on Latvian shoulders, reports the BNS newswire.

Instead of a dedicated channel, Russian speakers will be served up a 30 minute news show produced in Prague by US-funded Radio Free Europe, LRT's Rimvydas Paleckis told BNS.

The first show would be ready some time this fall, he said.

"This would be a TV project of Russian-language news, which should go on air in all three countries in the nearest weeks – late August or maybe in Sept. We are committed to finding a place for the daily news... This all would be seen in all three Baltic states on national broadcasters," he said.

He said his Latvian counterparts jumped the gun in suggesting a fully-fledged channel without proper preparation.

"After hearing the idea, the Estonians were the first ones to say they would not participate in the project – even if they participated, it would be a Russian-language channel of their own […]. Therefore, the whole Latvian idea crashed, as the countries have entirely different situation with their Russian-speaking populations," Paleckis said.

The idea of a joint channel to provide news and entertainment directed at the region's Russian speakers was debated earlier this year following the imposition of temporary broadcast bans on some Russian channels accused of spreading Kremlin propaganda.

After initial enthusiasm first Estonian and now Lithuanian reservations about the costs and benefits of the channel seem to have kicked the project into touch.

 

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