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After months of planning, the new Russian-American Media Partnerships program (RAMP) will begin soliciting proposals this month from Russian and American media organizations interesting in forming joint ventures.
The three-year program, funded by a $14 million grant from the US Agency for International Development, has the aim of helping Russian mass media become commercially viable and independent. The RAMP program is being operated jointly by Internews and the Russian-American Press and Information Center.
"The program is designed to assist in the development of the independent media in Russia," said project director Gerard Langrognat. "It has 3 years to develop between 10 to 20 partnerships between Russian and American organizations in the field of print, TV and radio, and these relations or partnerships are designed to respond to the needs of the Russian media."
Partnerships may be either in media infrastructure, items which influence an entire media industry, or operational areas, such as the publication of a magazine or production of TV programs. A number of Russian and American organizations have already expressed interest in the program, including a newspaper association, which would like to work with Russian groups organizing a regional newspaper organization.
While Langrognat said they do not want to rule out any proposals, the RAMP project is not intended to be a vehicle for direct investment, and eligibility will sometimes be determined by a fine line.
"(It) really depends on USAID regulations," Langrognat said. "For example we are not in a position to pay salaries of employees, but we can consider assisting in exploration costs for partners getting to know each other, travel, accommodations, consulting fees, equipment procurement."
There will be three phases in the application process. The first is the February announcement and initial solicitation of proposals. In April, RAMP administrators and advisory board hope to select the first partnership proposals. USAID officials will then review the submissions and make the a decision. The advisory board will consist of Americans and Russian media professionals.
Proposals will be evaluated on three basic criteria: does the proposed partnership respond to a need, will the partnership be self sustaining, and whether it can eventually become commercially viable. In addition there will be various other criteria that apply to specific types of media and organizations.
Partnership proposals will be accepted through February 1, 1996. For additional information, contact RAMP at Internews, House of Journalists, 8 Suvorovsky Bul., Room 302, Moscow 121019. Tel.: (095) 973-2144, Fax: (7095) 291-2174, E-mail: email@example.com.
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