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Russia Today Satellite TV in English, Arabic
Event held by Russian mission during General Assembly opening
Ronda Hauben (netizen2)     Print Article 
Published 2007-09-30 11:36 (KST)   
The new satellite news channels, Russia Today TV (RT) in English and Rusiya Al-Yaum in Arabic, were introduced to a large crowd of journalists and others as a side event during the recent opening of the United Nations General Assembly in New York. On Thursday, Sept. 27, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, Mr Sergey Lavrov told those assembled at the event sponsored by the Russian Mission that democracy requires not only information but a diversity of views. For the decisions of politicians to be reasonable, he said, they need to be overseen by citizens, so they don't just create problems, but instead solve them.

RT was created by young professionals who were also conscious of the media market, he explained. The stories chosen are based on the news that people find fascinating. Also there is an effort to cover stories that do not otherwise receive the coverage they deserve.

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In addition to RT covering the news, the programs cover politics, culture, and modern day Russia. There is a special effort Lavrov explained, to pay attention to Russian-Arabic relations. The programs are available via satellite channels in the Middle East, Africa and Europe. Also they can be accessed via the Internet.

A press conference was part of the event. Some reporters asked Lavrov if Russia was planning to block new Security Council sanctions against Iran. He responded that Russia was not blocking sanctions, but was asking that the measures taken by the Security Council be proportionate and commensurate with what Iran is doing. He described how there is an important chance to make progress on the Iran problem, since there is a process ongoing between Iran and the IAEA. Since this process is making progress, he didn't want to lose this opportunity to solve the problem via negotiations. "We want to receive a report from the IAEA," he explained, of what the problems consist of.

Such questions raised during the press conference help to highlight in practical terms the issue of whether RT will be able to live up to its goal of support for a broader diversity of viewpoints and to make it possible to pay special attention to Russian-Arabic relations. Escalating Security Council sanctions do not help negotiations to solve the problem with Iran, the Foreign Minister explained. He expressed his support for the IAEA to carry out its functions and that these not be taken over by the Security Council. Earlier in the day the Foreign Minister had reportedly stood his ground in response to pressure from the U.S. to increase the Security Council sanctions against Iran.

The Foreign Minister's efforts to support a more democratic process with regard to Iran rather than going along with demands for new sanctions to be imposed by the Security Council, is in line with the Minister's statements that politicians should not be causing problems but instead helping to solve them.

A booklet describing the television channels says:

"At Russia Today, we believe news happens everywhere and not just in a handful of countries. Watch us and you will discover the 'other' news in the world."

Russia Today asks what viewers would like to see. Viewers are asked to write to agurnov@rttv.ru to propose programs they want.

Will Russia Today provide coverage for an alternative point of view on important issues such as, for example, those issues before the Security Council? Or will it reinforce the dominant way such news is framed in the English speaking media where the norm is that reporters support and encourage those governments pressuring for sanctions? Providing an alternative viewpoint, in this arena and in others, is not an easy task.

RT joins a growing number of television news and views programs offering programming to an international audience, and especially targeting the Middle East, which has become a region with a vibrant news environment.

©2007 OhmyNews
Other articles by reporter Ronda Hauben

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