WE ARE STARTING FROM SCRATCH AGAIN

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Viktoriya Voloshina Izvestia, August 30, 2001, p. 3

An interview with Tatiana Mitkova, General Director of the NTV News Service. NTV is having problems with the presidential administration about coverage of the Kursk salvage operation. NTV is still covering events in Chechnya better than the state-owned TV networks.

Tatiana Mitkova, General Director of the NTV News Service, met with journalists at the St. Petersburg office of the Interfax news agency. She spoke about NTV’s plans on the nationwide scale and plans for St. Petersburg. “Regaining the positions we lost is the top priority now,” she said.

Question: Is working together with the authorities easier than working against them?

Tatiana Mitkova: I would not call our relations warm, you know. Yes, there was a period when we were favored. To a certain extent, that is. We were even promised informational support. We were promised our correspondents would be permitted where only state TV channels are permitted. Alas, that period is over. We have serious problems with the presidential administration on how we cover the Kursk salvage operation in the Barents Sea. Like state TV channels, we are financial sponsors of the live coverage of the operation, but who really cares? Attempts were made to tell us how to do our job. We ignored them, and our correspondents are not allowed to cover certain events. I hope all this is just misplaced enthusiasm on the part of some officials.

Question: Former NTV fans have noticed certain changes in your coverage of events in Chechnya.

Mitkova: I would not say so. No one has covered refugee camps in Ingushetia as extensively as NTV. The massacre in Asinovskaya was covered by NTV alone. It is pointless to transmit reports from Khankala, you know, because everything there is organized by the military and the Interior Ministry. Journalists there are only shown what the security structures decide should be shown. That is why we deliberately abstain from sending our most prominent correspondents to Khankala. Actually, we are aiming to change tactics. We will try reporting from Chechnya without going to Khankala or Grozny.

Question: What about staff problems? Do you have any?

Mitkova: In April, 105 staff chose to resign – correspondents, editors, directors, assistants, cameramen. We were seriously understaffed at first. The situation is improving now.

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