MOSCOW - The self-proclaimed new managers of Russia's only nationwide independent television network on Saturday took over NTV, changing the security guards, firing journalists who refused their authority and cutting off the morning news in the midst of the broadcast.
The first real sign of the impact of the seizure of NTV's airwaves came at 8:06 a.m. (0506 GMT) when anchor Andrei Norkin was cut off in mid-sentence as he attempted to explain just what had happened when the new managers arrived at the station early Saturday morning. .
The new managers are led by American financier Boris Jordan, who has warned banks not to deal with the channel until he can move in as the station's head and complete a takeover by natural gas giant Gazprom.
Earlier, a so-called commission on the transfer of property arrived shortly before dawn at NTV's offices to take control of the network, Alexei Kondulukov, an NTV correspondent said, speaking by telephone from inside the main television tower at Ostankino in northern Moscow.
Kondulukov said NTV was not allowed to begin broadcasting its early morning program, which should already have been on the air in the Russian Far East. Ekho Moskvy, an independent radio station that belongs to NTV's parent company, Media-Most, asked listeners to call and let them know what was happening with the station's broadcasts across Russia's 11 time zones.
NTV went on the air in Moscow at 8:01 a.m. (0501 GMT) in Moscow, with footage of journalists milling around trying to figure out what to do. Norkin was reading a news broadcast when the station went off the air.
NTV journalists who refuse the new management continued broadcasting on TNT, a smaller channel that also belongs to Media-Most, according to Ekho Moskvy. The broadcast could be seen only in parts of Moscow
Journalists who refuse NTV's new management gathered early Saturday at the station. Mariana Maximovskaya said she had been fired and was no longer an NTV anchor. Maximovskaya and others later signed a statement saying they were leaving the station.
The state-connected gas giant, Gazprom, a major shareholder and creditor in NTV, voted out the station's management April 3 at a board meeting, a move many of the independent network's employees consider illegal.
NTV TEAM IS NOT ALLOWED IN, GUARDS REPLACED
Moscow - Guards at the NTV television studio have been replaced. Journalists have been denied access to their working areas.
Interfax learnt on Saturday night from a representative of the press service of NTV, Tatyana Blinova, who was also not allowed into the building, that officers from OMON (a special-purpose unit) had replaced the guards of the television company during the night.
|NTV founder Vladimir Gusinsky
||Former NTV director general Yevgeny Kiselyov
||New NTV director general Boris Jordan
||CNN media mogul Ted Turner
||Gazprom-Media chief Alfred Kokh
DEFIANT NTV JOURNALISTS APPEAR ON AIR IN RUSSIA
NEW MANAGERS TAKE OVER NTV
MOSCOW - The new management of Russia's independent NTV television, installed after a disputed shareholders' meeting but rejected by staff, took over the station early on Saturday, NTV reporters said.
Marianna Maximovskaya told Ekho Moskvy radio that guards loyal to the old management headed by Yevgeny Kiselyov were replaced with security loyal to the new managers. Some other NTV reporters confirmed Maximovskaya's report.
She said some of the staff were allowed into the NTV office, while others including her, were denied access. It was not clear whether employees loyal to Kiselyov offered any resistance to the takeover.
MOSCOW - Defiant journalists working for Russia's independent NTV television appeared on the channel on Saturday morning despite moves by the station's new managers to takeover NTV during the night.
NTV channel started its broadcast at 0400 GMT carrying the logo of a sister-station TNT, also part of the embattled media empire of Vladimir Gusinsky.
Announcer Andrei Norkin, one of the most active protesters, appeared on the screens giving his account of the overnight raid in which security guards at the station's headquarters were replaced. The television showed pictures of the editorial newsroom.
The broadcast lasted seven minutes and was later interrupted. It continued on the TNT channel.
|31 March, 2001, 20,000 attend press rally
|NTV journalists keep vigil
||Gusinsky (l) & Kiselyov in happier times
RUSSIAN NTV TO USE ALTERNATIVE CHANNEL
Moscow - Russian NTV behaviour remains unchanged so far. Colour vertical strips can be seen on the screen. A green logo "Let us Defend NTV Today", usually placed in the lower left corner of the screen, is still there.
According to the information regularly broadcast by Russian Ekho Moskvy radio, NTV broadcast did not start on time in the Russian Far East.
Ekho Moskvy has recently announced that NTV news will be broadcast at 0400 gmt on the alternative channel TNT-Network affiliated with Media-Most (Channel 10 in Moscow). Same colour vertical strips are shown on TNT so far.
RUSSIAN EKHO MOSKVY RADIO CHANGES BROADCAST SCHEDULE
Moscow - Russian Ekho Moskvy radio, affiliated with Media-Most, has changed its usual broadcast schedule over the situation with NTV television company [monitored from 0200 gmt]. News bulletins devoted to ongoing developments are coming on air every 15 minutes. Songs having political implication or devoted to struggle and courage are broadcast between them. Presenter also quotes listeners' opinions for and against NTV, voiced by telephone.
Read the earlier news about NTV from the RJ ticker
(sources: RJ, Reuters, AP, RBC)