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State Television Chief Announces Resignation

March 16, 1995

MOSCOW (AP) _ The board chairman of Russia’s lucrative state-run television submitted his resignation Thursday, saying the huge, troubled network was crippled by greedy incompetents engrossed in political infighting.

Many employees at the Ostankino network are unable ``to make programs worth watching,″ Alexander Yakovlev told the ITAR-Tass news agency.

Their real interest, he said, is ``dividing up government funds and earning money on advertising.″

Ostankino is already mired in controversy over a government reorganization plan, rich advertising revenues and the possibly related murder of network executive Vladislav Listyev, one of Russia’s most popular journalists.

Russian President Boris Yeltsin last year ordered that 49 percent of Ostankino be sold. The reorganized network is to be known as Public Russian Television _ and headed by Yakovlev.

Yakovlev did not resign from Public Russian Television on Thursday, meaning his departure from Ostankino could be merely symbolic. There is widespread speculation, however, that Yeltsin may delay or cancel the reorganization.

Yakovlev, 71, is best known as the architect of former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev’s groundbreaking policies of economic, social and politcial reforms.

As a prelude to Ostankino’s reorganization, the board of directors recently imposed a temporary ban on advertising until ethics standards can be drafted.

The Russian advertising industry has mushroomed since Ostankino first began selling broadcast time in the late 1980s. A minute of prime-time advertising now costs about $50,000.

Police said Wednesday they were looking into links between Listyev’s death and the slayings of three other people who had a stake in Ostankino’s lucrative in-house advertising company.

Listyev’s own production company also had a stake in the network’s advertising company, which has been widely accused of corruption.

There has been much speculation that Listyev’s slaying was connected to the uncertainty over who will control over the network and its lucrative advertising revenue.

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