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Rainy TV Channels Optimistic Ambition

DozhdThe new channel, Dozhd, aims to win back those viewers who have stopped watching television in recent years.

Viewers can currently watch the growing pains of a new television channel as webcam footage takes them into the newsroom of Dozhd, or Rain, a channel that aims to attract audiences that have stopped watching mainstream television.

Dozhd was set up by Natalya Sindeyeva, one of the founders of the popular Moscow radio station Silver Rain, and it has attracted an impressive list of contributors so far, such as veteran journalist Valery Panyushkin and news portal Slon.ru.

Its broadcasting began on the Internet at the end of April, and the channel, whose full name is “Dozhd: Optimistic Channel,” is set to launch officially in September.

“Our slogan is: ‘Don’t be afraid to switch on the TV set,’” Sindeyeva said in a recent interview. “We want to talk about our life subjectively, objectively, not necessarily concentrating on negative reality … after you switch off the TV set the feeling should remain that life will go on.”

“TV is dying, those Kremlin dudes have killed it. It’s impossible to learn anything from TV now, therefore it makes no sense to watch it,” said Panyushkin, a veteran journalist who has worked with the Vedomosti and Kommersant newspapers as well as the Snob project and who will make programs at Dozhd. “None of decision makers watch TV — be it a businessman looking for a new project to invest in or a mother trying to plan a family budget. TV nowadays doesn’t give any information, neither factual nor emotional.”

The channel will exploit the rise of new media using Skype and YouTube, with all reporters expected to act as presenter, director and producer at the same time. One of the station’s current novelties is a webcam in the channel’s studio located in the former chocolate factory Krasny Oktyabr, where viewers can peer in on the morning meeting at noon.

“I think there is more trust in a YouTube shot than in a beautiful image of a studio, [an image] that a super professional light crew has worked on, where everything is stunning,” the channel’s director, Vera Krichevskaya, said in an interview for Openspace.ru. “I have a feeling that the audience that interests us believes more in YouTube.”

Krichevskaya previously worked at the old NTV before it was closed down by the Kremlin after Vladimir Putin became president in 2000.

“The idea of attracting an audience that doesn’t watch TV is pretty popular in today’s media,” said Yury Saprykin, an editorial director at Afisha magazine. “It’s a significant community, and there’ve been several attempts to reach it — for instance, ‘Gorodskiye Pizhony’ [or ‘Urban dudes’] on Channel One, the ‘Bolshoi Gorod’ program on CTC and, seemingly, the whole concept of the renewed Channel Five. The main question is: ‘How?’ ‘Gorodskiye Pizhony’ was canceled after several months, as was ‘Bolshoi Gorod.’ We’ll see about Channel Five.”

“Optimistic” in the name of the channel doesn’t mean that it is going to express joy only or talk about purely good news. It’s more like a life philosophy of people who are responsible for themselves and want to have a good quality of life,” said Anna Kachkayeva, a media analyst. “Therefore, ‘Optimistic Channel’ sounds more to me like a life assertion than just happy news.”

When talk gets around to what the channel will show on the news, Krichevskaya says, in an interview on Radio Svoboda, that two themes they will focus on are the interaction between viewers and the notorious traffic police as well as the blue light campaign against the flashing lights that the rich, powerful and important have on their cars, granting them impunity to traffic laws. Civic journalism will also be an important part of the channel.

Panyushkin, himself, will do a video blog on the channel. “I will go and film what I consider interesting and then have an in-studio discussion with people once a week,” he said. “We will talk about different issues, but since my main interest lately has been children with serious health problems and gathering money for medicines and treatment, a significant part of my work at the channel will be concerning children.”

The test version of Dozhd can be watched at http://slon.ru/tvrain.


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