10 october 2008

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin met with the creative team of the NTV Channel and congratulated them on the channel’s 15th anniversary

Vladimir Putin

Meeting with the creative team of the NTV Channel

"The main point is to make sure that adult programmes convey basic values. Therefore, the content is very important, and all the more so because of the imminent switch to the digital format. This is abundantly clear."

Transcript of the beginning of the meeting:  

Tatyana Mitkova: Mr Putin, this is our news studio.

Vladimir Putin: I see.

Tatyana Mitkova: Usually this is where the news correspondents work, but now there are presenters of our television programmes.

Vladimir Putin: Congratulations to you on your anniversary. How many people work here?

Vladimir Kulistikov: You mean the correspondents?

Vladimir Putin: No, I mean how many people work in this room?

Vladimir Kulistikov: I think there are 22 people here now.

Vladimir Putin: It seems like that is too many.

You correspondents are all so slender, and the management is more heavyset. They say it's because of radiation but I doubt it.

Vladimir Kulistikov: Correspondents are always running around, whereas the management is always here, watching them to make sure they do not blab out anything unwarranted.

Vladimir Putin: How is our colleague doing here with you (pointing to a photo)?

Tatyana Mitkova: Yes, we went on a trip together, and had fun.

Vladimir Putin: Will you continue working with the same enthusiasm? I see that you have revolutionary topics here about Latin America.

Tatyana Mitkova: Yes, we do.

Vladimir Kulistikov: These are our latest trophies.

Tatyana Mitkova: We have been watching Fidel Castro closely.

Vladimir Putin: How many people work here altogether?

Vladimir Kulistikov: About two and a half thousand.

Vladimir Putin: Two and a half thousand? That's a lot.

Did you go on air exactly 15 years ago?

Vladimir Kulistikov: Yes, it was exactly 15 years ago. But Oleg (Dobrodeyev) probably knows this better than me because I did not work at the NTV then.

Oleg Dobrodeyev: Many people remember this, for example, Vladimir Kondratyev. Incidentally, we went on air on St Petersburg's Channel Five. Few people remember this now, but in fact Anatoly Sobchak was one of NTV's founding fathers. We went to him then, and he gave us a time slot - at 9 p.m. on Sunday on Channel Five. This is where the channel's first programme went on air.

Vladimir Putin: Right on October 10th?

Oleg Dobrodeyev: Yes. Strictly speaking, NTV first went on air on St Petersburg's Channel Five. This was a point of departure.

Vladimir Putin: And from the very start your focus was on the news, wasn't it?

Oleg Dobrodeyev: Actually, in the beginning it was just the news. At first, we only had the programmes "Segodnya" (Today) and "Itogi" (Summing up).

Vladimir Putin: You have certainly managed to do a brilliant job. This is why your ratings were high practically from the start. Isn't that right?

Oleg Dobrodeyev: Yes, it's true. It was a real breakthrough, a revolution on Russian television. And the people were better.

It really all started here, with this newsroom. People who started here now work all over the country. I think that NTV raised the standard of quality. It is true for the beginning and for our time. It is still high.

Vladimir Putin: We need more educational programmes, especially focused on the young generation. There are not enough of them, both on NTV and other channels, with the exception of the Culture Channel. But it was established for this purpose.

Oleg Dobrodeyev: There are channels for children now, for instance, Bibigon. I believe that now that the digital era is rapidly approaching, we will soon have at least two channels for children. They already exist, but we should make them more accessible, and this is a gradual process. Big areas are already covered in Moscow and other big cities. But the main thing is to extend them to the rest of Russia.

Konstantin Ernst: There should be two channels, Mr Putin, because children do not fit into one group. There are small children under ten, and there are teenagers. This is why we need two channels. One channel will not do the job.

Vladimir Putin: Talking about digital television, we can expect even more channels to appear. But the main thing is the content.

Oleg Dobrodeyev: If children want to watch adult programmes, they should not be prevented from doing so.

Vladimir Putin: The main point is to make sure that adult programmes convey basic values. Therefore, the content is very important, and all the more so because of the imminent switch to the digital format. This is abundantly clear. You are all specialists, and you understand that for every channel we have today we are going to have three or four new channels. This will certainly change the requirements to the content.

Konstantin Ernst: I believe that we have made one major achievement over these years. We have kicked the Western habit. Most of the programmes we have today are Russian, they are made in Russia and they deal with Russian subjects. If you look at the same 15-year period in the cinema, you can see that it is completely dominated by the Americans. And now the Americans are racking their brains over finding a niche in our television market. This is a big problem for them because we have already educated the audience, which is immune to their products and no longer interested in them.

Vladimir Putin: Is it because the viewers got tired of all that?

Konstantin Ernst: We offer an alternative and a freedom of choice. I think that the digital format will only expand this freedom further. We did not ban anything, we did not delete anything, nor did the authorities. Our viewers have conscientiously made their choice because the leading channels can compete in the global market. The audience prefers their products to what was shown before.

Vladimir Putin: I hope that we will move further in this direction. Thank you.