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Kommersant to Open FM Radio Station

The country's biggest business daily is to take to the air Monday when Kommersant FM radio starts broadcasting in the capital.

The station will operate on the 93.6 frequency in an all-news format with a focus on business and financial information, spokeswoman Galina Boyanova said Friday.

She said the station would benefit from synergy with the newspaper and referred all further questions to a news conference scheduled for Monday.

The frequency was obtained by Kommersant's publishing house in April 2007, but the ambitious plans to develop the business-orientated radio station stalled because of the economic crisis, national media reported. ? 

Instead, a music-orientated station called Newtone FM appeared on the frequency in late 2008. That station stopped producing programs in November and was taken off the air earlier this month.

Kommersant, which has an official daily circulation of 101,739, was acquired by Kremlin-friendly businessman Alisher Usmanov in 2006 but has largely kept its critical stance vis-a-vis the government.

Uzbek-born Usmanov was ranked the country's 14th-richest person with a net worth of $7.2 billion by Forbes last week.

Kommersant's radio station faces a tough task to become profitable in the city's overcrowded radio market, which is jammed with about 50 stations, analysts said.

"Only one or two of them make money, while the rest only exist thanks to generous sponsors," said Alexei Mukhin, an analyst with the Center for Political Information, a think tank.

A radio station, however, would seem to fall in line with Usmanov's efforts to diversify his media holding, which also includes magazines like Ogonyok and Sekret Firmy as well as the Gazeta.ru news site. "Diversification is en vogue. All media holdings are doing this at the moment," Mukhin said.

Maxim Klyagin, an analyst with the Finam investment firm, said Kommersant FM probably only has a chance because market saturation is low in the business news sector. "That is the segment where competition is the least," he said.

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