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Australian tycoon could buy Russian TV
MOSCOW - Australian media baron Rupert Murdoch is going to buy part of NTV, one of Russia's biggest national television networks. His company News Corporation has been in discussions with NTV regarding the sale of its satellite business NTV Plus, the New York Times reports quoting sources close to the negotiations. According to the newspaper, such a sale would come as part of a broad restructuring by NTV's parent company, the government-owned natural gas company Gazprom. This month, Gazprom will hold its annual board meeting, where it is likely to discuss the fate of its media holdings. NTV is one of the three main television networks in Russia, and its satellite subscription business NTV Plus has roughly 200,000 customers, the New York Times says. According to one banker who analyzes Russian media, the satellite service could fetch as much as $250m. However, it would be unlikely for even part of a state-owned network to change hands until after the presidential election in March, the newspaper notes. Mr. Murdoch is seen as someone comfortable doing business with state-controlled media markets. Quoting its source close to the company's media division Gazprom Media, the New York Times says that Mr. Murdoch would have no problem doing business with the state, judging from his experience in China. "He can toe the party line like he did in China," the source said. It is not ruled out that the deal, which might be worth $1bn, will be finalized by the end of 2004.
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