Russia to launch 24-hour news channel

MOSCOW, June 28, 2006 (AFP) – Russian state television will launch the country’s first national 24-hour news channel this summer with an accent on political coverage and news from the regions, the head of the state company in charge of the project said Wednesday.

"Russia is the only big country which does not have a news channel and now we have the chance to satisfy this need," Oleg Dobrodeyev, director general at the All Russian Televison and Radio Company, told the Kommersant daily in an interview.

The channel, which will be called Vesti-24, meaning News-24, will be launched July 1 and will initially be available only to subscribers of the satellite NTV-Plus package.

Vesti-24 will add to an already packed schedule of often government-friendly news coverage.

The three national channels — two owned by the state and the third owned by state-run gas giant Gazprom — run news broadcasts every hour on weekdays from 6 am to 11 pm.

Dobrodeyev said that Vesti-24 would differ from ordinary news broadcasts by showing entire events unedited, such as speeches by President Vladimir Putin and sessions of the lower house of parliament.

"We will make complete broadcasts on the news channel, part of them simply without commentary," Dobrodeyev said.