The tragic fire at Moscow's Ostankino Television tower that claimed four lives last week and wiped out nearly all broadcasting in the city has proved a windfall for Media Most Group's satellite service NTV Plus.

The Media Most Group, which has been beset by financial problems over the past year, reported that its satellite dishes are currently selling at between four and five times above average. Calls inquiring about the service are coming in at 400 times above average. Before the fire the service had about 140,000 subscribers.

All other broadcasters, except Moscow cable operator Stolitsa and Media Most's UHF channel THT, have been blacked out by the fire which broke out last Sunday (August 27) in Russia's largest television and radio transmitter.

Emergency services managed to put the fire out by Monday although four emergency service workers died when an elevator plummeted 300 metres. The 540-metre high Soviet era tower is the second highest structure in the world and transmits most television and radio services in the capitol.

Television services in the rest of the country are operating normally but the loss of the lucrative Moscow market of 18 million viewers will hit broadcasters hard. Advertising losses are expected to run into tens of millions of dollars. The Russian government has announced that it expects services to be restored by September 25.

As Media Most reaps the benefits from the blackout a source inside the group hinted that it is near reaching a deal with its main creditor Gazprom for a total buyout of Vladimir Gusinsky's interest in the company. Gusinsky, imprisoned in earlier this year on fraud allegations, has been on holiday in Spain since the charges were dropped without explanation.