BERLIN, June 7 (RIA Novosti Taras Lariokhin) - RIA Novosti is establishing an English-language television channel, Russia Today. It will come as a unique contribution to the global public information cause - provided it will be independent, said Alexander Rahr, prominent German political expert.
"That will be a unique acquisition for the global information field. However, to become such an acquisition, the new channel is to possess genuine independence. It must not bear even the slightest resemblance to old Soviet television companies, with their sheer propaganda."
The expert has no objections at all to the Russian government taking part in project funding. "Many Western-based television and radio companies are entitled to government support - suffice it to mention the BBC or the Deutsche Welle. The state is not to pressure editors for their policies. That matters most."
Rahr approved the announced prospects for Russia Today to have a public council of its own, with fifteen community activists on it, to represent Russia and other countries. "That will be an earnest of its unbiased attitudes," he said.
Russia Today will come as a kind of Russian BBC, project chiefs said at its public introduction, on the RIA Novosti premises today. "That will be a glimpse of the world from Russia. We are not going to change a professional format, which such channels as the BBC, CNN or Euronews have got smoothly going. We want to reflect the Russian opinion of the world, and we want Russia to get clearer visible," said Margarita Simonyan, project manager.
The new channel is expected to start its broadcasts by the year's end for round-the-clock information. Russia Today will come as an independent company, said Mikhail Seslavinsky, in charge of the Federal Agency for the Press and Mass Communications.
The federal government intends to call the State Duma, parliament's lower house, to amend the year's federal budget for Russia Today financing. The channel will be funded through the Federal Agency for the Press and Mass Communications, by grants and from advertising revenues.
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The growing outright rivalry between the United States and China gives Russia more foreign policy weight, enabling it to assume the role of a balancer. So far it has been doing so rather skillfully. Today it may participate in a joint naval exercise with China that Beijing positions as outwardly anti-American. But tomorrow it can team up with the naval forces of the Old World.