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Ted Turner signs NTV deal

Ted Turner
Turner said the deal would ensure a "free and independent" future for NTV  

MOSCOW, Russia (CNN) -- CNN founder Ted Turner has confirmed he has reached a deal to buy out Vladimir Gusinsky, the owner of NTV -- Russia's only independent television network.

The news came on Wednesday as a standoff between the new and old leadership of NTV continued.

In Atlanta, Turner said he had reached an agreement with Gusinsky and was working on an agreement with state-run gas giant Gazprom and Gazprom-Media, the network's major creditor.

A statement from Turner said the deals would "ensure the future of the Russian television networks NTV, TNT and NTV+ as free and independent media companies."


"I am committed to the promotion of free and open media around the world and highly value the journalistic staff that drives NTV and consider them to be highly professional and dependable.

"Our goal is to secure the financial underpinnings of the company and establish a mechanism for growing the business in order to strengthen NTV's prominence and scope throughout Russia," Turner said.

He said he was "disappointed with the recent disruptive developments" at NTV and looked forward to closing a deal with Gazprom and Gazprom-Media.

Gusinsky will sell most of his holding in NTV  

"In earlier negotiations with Gazprom, we both agreed that no one party should have control of NTV and we are pursuing that course," Turner said.

The structure of the deal and how the management of NTV would work was not disclosed.

Turner is the Vice Chairman of AOL Time Warner, the parent company of CNN, but was operating independently of the corporation.

Meanwhile, a standoff continued between the old and new leadership of NTV, after stockholders elected American Boris Jordan on Tuesday to run the operation as its general director.

The move was called illegal by the former management team and they have refused to leave, claiming the Russian government is trying to take over the network and may use force to accomplish its goals.

Profile: Boris Jordan

Jordan, 33, said he would not allow any interference in NTV's editorial policy from the Kremlin. He said the network is in a financial crisis and his job is to turn it around.

Jordan is head of the Sputnik Group, an international finance and management group. He was responsible for developing Credit Suisse-First Boston's Russian operations.

Incoming management has said old management has nothing to fear.

"I can assure you: Not me, not the director general, Mr. Jordan, are going to take part in some kind of forced action against the journalists," editor-in-chief-designate Vladimir Kulstkov told CNN. "These people are my colleagues. Many of them are my friends."

Kulstkov was a member of the Communist Party during the Soviet era and worked for a Communist publication, but has mainly worked for independent media since then.

"So, my principles are freedom of press and non-governmental press," Kulstkov said. "I think my mission is to preserve the independent television station in Russia, which is a part of our political culture."

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4:30pm ET, 4/16

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