Russia Today will improve Russia's image abroad - Israeli expert

TEL-AVIV, June 8 (RIA Novosti's Ratmir Orestov) - Russia Today, the new RIA Novosti-based English-language satellite channel, will promote more objective image of Russia abroad, Dr. Zeev Hanin from Israeli Bar Ilan University told RIA Novosti.

He outlined the requirements that the channel should meet to achieve success.

"If the new channel broadcasts fresh and interesting materials about Russia and Russian affairs, it will surely be popular. However, with the same footage as on other channels, Russia Today will not be competitive," he said.

The time should be divided 50/50 between Russian and international affairs, with a lot of space left for news reviews and analysis. However, analytical programs should not be talk shows, which the expert described as a well-worn and unattractive format.

"Blitz assessments and snaps with a broad spectrum of opinion would make a good alternative," he said.

He said politicians, political commentators, analysts, experts, and businessmen - all people in this or that way concerned about the issue in question - should be given access to the airwaves.

"Certainly, the speaker's political views should not be regarded as a criterion for his or her participation," he said.

He said it would take the channel much time and a great deal of hard work to convince the Western public that Russia Today is not just another Kremlin-driven propaganda machine. To do that, he believes, the channel should consult experts from different countries and reach out to people of different views and positions.

Russia Today's own footage shot outside Russia - provided the channel will have the relevant resources, of course - will be key to success, he said.

"The audience is fed up with 'speaking heads' on screen. What they want is illustrative, visual information," Hanin said.

According to him, that the channel will be partly funded by the state is hardly a problem.

"Although Qatari channel Al Jazeera gets much financing from the state, I am eager to speak to them. What is important in this respect is that there should be no underfunding that leads to deterioration," he said.

Russia Today is expected to come on air by yearend.

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