NTV fact file: From Gusinsky to Gazprom
Founded in 1993 with funding by Vladimir Gusinsky's MOST Bank group, NTV is now Russia's largest independent broadcaster. More facts about NTV:
* Signal beamed 20 hours a day to potential audience of 110 million across Russia, Belarus, parts of Kazakhstan, Ukraine and the Baltic states.
* Reputed for its news operation, which remains its in-house production mainstay, NTV has diversified with popular entertainment programmes.
* Prime-time news show "Sevodnya" and weekly news commentary programme "Itogi" routinely get higher ratings in Moscow and European Russia than government-sponsored news fare.
* Programming consists of movies (37 percent), news (26 percent) and entertainment (25 percent). Advertising makes up 10 percent of airtime, and the balance (2 percent) is dead air.
* Demographic breakdown: Under 55 (60 percent plus), age 16-39 (27 percent), 40-54 (28 percent), 55-plus (38 percent), under 16 (6 percent).
* Top-rated programmes include the political satire show "Kukli" ("Puppets") and the interview programme "Geroi Dnia" ("Hero of the Day").
* NTV has news bureaus in more than half a dozen Russia cities and international correspondents in Washington; New York; Berlin; London; Riga, Latvia; Tel Aviv, Israel; and Paris, France.
* NTV's criticism of the government's conduct in the 1994-96 Chechen war launched the network's reputation as an independent voice.
* Its support of President Boris Yeltsin's 1996 re-election bid drew charges that NTV had fallen under the sway of politically connected financial backers, including Gusinsky's MOST Bank, Natsionalny Kredit and Stolichny Bank.
* On November 11, 1996, NTV began broadcasting on Channel 4 following Yeltsin's degree granting the station exclusive rights to the channel. Some critics saw the move as payback for NTV's support.
* Russian natural gas giant Gazprom's June 1996 purchase of a 30 percent stake in NTV caused consternation in Russian press. Gazprom general director Ryem Vyakhirev stoked concerns by saying, "[Gazprom] has been persistently pilloried [by the press] on various issues, and since we have over a million shareholders, and we need to talk to them, we're looking for ways to communicate, including television."
* In February 2000, veteran TV journalist Yevgeny Kiselyov was appointed as NTV general director, a function he performed until his ouster in the April 2001 boardroom coup by Gazprom.
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