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Russian Public Television Begins Broadcasting

Russia's first public television channel began broadcasting on Sunday, with live broadcasts available on the channel's official website and also freely available to viewers of cable, satellite, or IP-TV.

The channel, Russian Public Television, is a hallmark of Dmitry Medvedev's presidency and was created amid opposition protests in late 2011, with some saying it was a direct response to the protests.

Although the channel's general director, Anatoly Lysenko, has said the channel would not serve as a mouthpiece for the state or for the opposition, many critics have expressed skepticism that the channel would maintain a neutral stance, noting that it is almost entirely dependent on state funding. Its initial financing includes a government grant of 1.5 billion rubles ($48 million).

According to RIA Novosti, Lysenko called on viewers not to judge the new channel by its first day of broadcasts, saying the first day was merely a presentation of the channel and that many aspects of the programs were still being developed.

The channel's broadcasting began on Sunday at noon with a block of news, followed by the program "Big Country," dedicated to events in various regions of Russia.  After a brief news release at 1 p.m., the channel aired the program "Non-Standard Model," about life in Russian villages.

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