REN TV (Russian: РЕН ТВ) is one of the largest private federal TV channels in Russia. Founded by Irena Lesnevskaya and her son, Dmitry Lesnevsky, who had been running REN TV as a production house for other national Russian television channels, it has broadcast since 1 January 1997. Its target audience is a young to middle-age city worker. Even though it focuses mostly on the audience in the 18 to 45 demographic, REN offers programming for a wide range of demographics, since the target viewer has a family and respects family values. The channel has won 13 TEFIs awards presented by the Academy of Russian Television.REN TV’s network is a patchwork of 406 independent broadcasting companies in Russia and the CIS. REN’s signal is received in 718 towns and cities in Russia from Kaliningrad in the West to Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk in the East. It has a potential audience of 113.5 million viewers (officially 120 million viewers ) with more than 12 million of them living in Moscow city and Moscow Oblast (Moscow Region). REN TV works with 10 broadcaster affiliates and 19 cable operators in the CIS and Baltic states; 181 cities can receive REN TV’s signal.By many political fringe groups REN TV is considered to be “one of the last bastions of free media” in Russia. It is the only channel up-to-date which covers the meetings of socialist and liberal groups and takes interviews from leaders of the political fringe.Contents..Until 1 July 2005 the channel belonged to its founder Irena Lesnevskaya and her son (30%) and the Russian utility RAO UES headed by Anatoly Chubais. In 2005 Bertelsmann’s RTL bought 30% of REN TV with steel maker Severstal and oil and natural gas company Surgutneftegaz each buying 35%.Severstal’s Alexey Germanovich on 18 December 2006 ceded the chairperson of REN TV’s board to Lyubov Sovershaeva, President Vladimir Putin’s former deputy envoy to the North-West federal okrug and chairperson of the board at ABRos Investments, a subsidiary of St Petersburg’s Russia bank. ABRos had bought a considerable stake in REN. The bank, whose chairman, Yury Kovalchuk, was a close friend of President Vladimir Putin, owned 38% of its home town’s TRK Petersburg TV channel – and was likely to buy more of that company, analysts had told 19 December 2006’s Kommersant-daily. REN TV and TRK Petersburg would merge into a single media holding, though they would operate independently, industry observers had told the daily.Russian media had reported that oil and gas group Surgutneftegaz had sold its stake in the channel to ABRos, which had increased its stake in the media company from 45% to 70%. ‘[T]here are indications that Bertelsmann was interested in selling up, after about 18 months in the Russian TV market,’ the broadcasting news website added.As per the website of REN TV, RTL owns 30% and National Media Group (NMG) owns 68% of the channel.In November 2005 REN TV fired Olga Romanova, the anchor of its daily 24 news flagship. Despite much publicity around the incident, her independent manner of reporting was continued by Marianna Maksimovskaya, formerly an anchor and news presenter for Vladimir Gusinsky’s NTV Station. As of October 2011, Maksimovskaya was still in charge of news broadcasts on REN TV. Due to her activities, the channel remains arguably Russia’s the only major TV outlet with liberal views, discussing the problem of state censorship and showing interviews with leaders of the political fringe (including Other Russia).Prior to her departure from the channel, Romanova had told the Radio Free Europe on 25 November 2005 that the channel’s head, Alexander Ordzhonikidze had pulled two recent stories for, she felt, political reasons. One censored item had covered an investigation into Defence Minister Sergei Ivanov’s son’s involvement in a road accident in which a woman died. Romanova spoken about the alleged censorship on Ekho Moskvy radio on 23 November 2005 – and the next day Ordzhonikidze barred from entering the channel’s building. A second ‘banned item had been about the building in central Moscow of a US $15 million church and clock tower by Zurab Tsereteli, the Internmational Press Institute noted in its report on 2005.Ordzhonikidze said in an interview for Echo of Moscow radio station that REN’s news output had low ratings and management had decided to try other anchors on the evening newscasts. “Besides, it’s hard for one person to anchor all the nightly newscasts every day of the week. [They] might just feel ill,” he had added.In solidarity with Romanova, several of her journalist colleagues quit the channel in December 2005. Head of news and deputy channel director, Yelena Fedorova, told Radio Liberty’s Russian Service (Radio Svoboda) why she had resigned. “A lot of content-related directives have passed by me. As a journalist, I cannot put up with that, I cannot live with that,” she told state news agency RIA Novosti on 5 December 2005. Editor Olga Shorina and producer Tatyana Kolokova were also planning to leave the channel because, they said, it was impossible to perform their professional duties.