Thursday, March 24, 2016

Party time

Happy 70th birthday to the BBC's Russian Service. There had been some broadcasts in Russian from London during the Second World War, but the service formally began on 24th March 1946. From 1949 to 1987, Russia devoted significant cash, time and energy into blocking short-wave transmissions, but audiences at their height were estimated at 6m.

The late 1990s money-saving strategy of "partnering" with local FM stations slowly came to grief under Putin, who didn't much like Auntie; by 2008, the BBC in Russian was only available on a few AM transmitters, and audiences were down to some 600,000. There were concomitant cuts in staff, and by 2011, the Russian Service moved to internet-only operations.

Some of the Government's new cash interest in the World Service should be coming to the Russian team at Broadcasting House, so, perhaps in 2016 we can see a little rebuilding - if rather late.

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